Honda Grand Prix of Toronto: Drivers express concern over standing starts

USA TODAY Sports

IndyCar will implement its first standing start in Series history on Saturday afternoon in Toronto, which has some teams concerned about the potential for mistakes or accidents.

Dario Franchitti is a four-time IndyCar Series champion and one of the most-experienced drivers in the paddock, but he's admittedly going to be out of his element on Saturday afternoon when the first race of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader begins from a standing start.

Franchitti will start the first race from the pole position and doesn't entirely know what to expect when the lights go out. For one, he doesn't think the car is fully equipped for a standing start. but he does find the competitive potential fascinating.

"For most of the people in the field, it's been such a long time since we did standing starts," Franchitti said. "And with this hand clutch and the current system components, it's just going to be a complete unknown tomorrow.

"In some ways it's good -- it mixes things up a little bit but it's going to be better in the front that in the middle of it."

The middle of the standing start is exactly where James Hinchcliffe will find himself at the start of Saturday's race after posting the 14th best qualifying time. And despite his vast experience at standing starts in the Mazda Road to Indy, Hinchcliffe is still concerned at all the things that could possibly go wrong.

"The teams haven't been quite as proactive on testing and practicing for this," Hinchcliffe said. "We've never gone through the procedure of lining-up and going through the lights as a group so there is a serious risk of somebody getting it wrong, which will look pretty silly.

"The other issue doing a standing start on a street circuit is that if somebody does stall, there is nowhere to go. That's got the big potential for issues."

Marco Andretti enters the race third in the championship standings and hopes to be cautious at the start of the race. He believes mistakes will be made during the full course of the race and that the standing start will increase the possibilities that those mistakes will be made once the lights do go out.

"Hopefully there isn't too much carnage," Andretti said. "But there might be with the first standing starts -- I think the fans are going to be in for a good show."

The IndyCar Series has never utilized standing starts before Saturday. The procedure has long been popular in Formula 1 and was used in the Champ Car World Series, but this will be a first for the former Indy Racing League. The complete rules for the procedure can be found here.

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