In the name of safety, numerous updates and modifications are coming to the IndyCar Series' Dallara chassis before the start of the 2014 season.
According to a Marshall Pruett report in RACER.com, the entire fleet of IR-12s will be required to undergo a number of safety modifications beginning in mid-January. All teams must have the changes applied to their primary cars prior to the first race of the season at St. Petersburg (Fla.) in March.
In addition, the changes must be applied to the backup cars by the Indianapolis 500 in May.
The series and Dallara have contracted Indianapolis-based Aerodine Composites Group to carry out the modifications, which include the addition of approximately 20 pounds of cladding to the cockpit sides and reinforcing the cockpit ring (opening).
The new side panels, which will add to the Zylon anti-intrusion panels that come built into the DW12, will be bonded to the inside and outside of the tub. The cockpit rim strengthening procedure will take place at the same time.
Teams are required to strip their tubs bare, barring a few brackets and other minor items, and all graphics, paint and filler will be removed, allowing Aerodine to work with bare carbon fiber surfaces. Once the upgrade process is complete, teams will need to apply new paint or graphics to the tub and reassemble their cars.
Each tub is expected to spend three days at Aerodine, and with the disassembly, stripping, shipping (or drop off, depending on where the team is located), return, livery addition and reassembly, one leading team estimates 10 days per tub will be consumed.
The changes are a direct response to a pair of accidents that have occurred over the past two seasons. The first was an accident at Sonoma in 2012 involving Sebastien Bourdais and the other in October with Justin Wilson at Auto Club Speedway.
The latter delayed the season-ending race for nearly half an hour and left the Briton with a non-operable pelvic fracture and a small pulmonary contusion.
The accident began when Wilson got loose in the middle of Turns 1 and 2, leaving Oriol Servia and Josef Newgarden nowhere to go but into each other. A third driver -- Tristan Vautier -- eventually speared Wilson's car, leading to the injuries.
The impact in both accidents caused the cockpit walls to crack, collapse and break respectively. And while the IR-12 meets FIA standards, IndyCar's Director of Competition Derrick Walker wants to take a proactive step to ensure that the chassis goes above and beyond as it continues to evolve.
"This decision was a direct result of a second chassis demonstrating that if you hit the car at the right place, it was possible to go beyond the overall limits and ability to sustain high speed side impacts," Walker told RACER. "The test that was done on the chassis when it was first being designed was FIA approved and administered through the FIA. The chassis wasn't below par.
"The chassis in both crashes did their job. What we, and certainly from my own perspective, want to find out going forward is how we need to differ our thresholds from the (FIA) standards. When we look at what IndyCar racing is, it's not necessarily going to follow that what happens in Formula 1."
Other changes to the Dallara may include a headrest made of a more comfortable and absorptive material, steering dampers and a revised floor. These changes are dependent on teams agreeing to the revisions and how they mesh with the soon-to-be-developed aero kits, set for a 2015 season debut.
The complete and comprehensive story on the planned and discussed modifications can be read here.