Power's Indy GP win a result of learning from previous errors

According to his race engineer Dave Faustino, Will Power’s victory on the Indianapolis road course yesterday was a product of offseason work to remedy mistakes made in the same event last year.

Power's Indy GP win a result of learning from previous errors
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, pit stop
Dave Faustino, Team Penske
Start: Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet leads
Podium: winner Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, second place Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Start: Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet leads
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Race winner Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Power dominated this latest IndyCar race weekend, leading every practice session, setting pole by over four-tenths of a second and leading 61 of the 85 laps. By way of contrast, at the same track 12 months earlier, a strategic faux-pas in qualifying led to Power starting outside the top six, he spun on the opening lap, and then couldn’t climb through the field due to setup issues.

Faustino told Motorsport.com: “Well first of all [this victory] felt badly needed, because we’ve been doing well this year and just hadn’t put a win together, so it’s good to finally get a reward.

“As far as the track’s concerned, last year we trimmed out a little too much here and so we struggled to run in traffic, so we ran a little bit more downforce this time around.

“But the crucial thing was working hard in the offseason to improve our car for this track in terms of balance. This track is all about having good balance – and a good driver! – because that allows you to lay the wing down for straightline speed, but not lose the tires over a stint.

“Having said that, the new tires were really difficult to deal with. We didn’t have much degradation here the past two years, but this year there was a lot. And they behaved totally differently. Last year we were stupid-loose on blacks [primary-compound tires] and had understeer on reds [softer compound]. This year the blacks gave us tons of understeer and we were balanced on reds.”

As Power insisted yesterday, his drive wasn’t perfect, especially not in the opening stint of the race. Although on scuffed red tires he held off teammate Helio Castroneves on new reds, Power’s switch to blacks for the second stint, with Castroneves on used reds, saw the Brazilian take the lead for the next 22 laps. But Faustino said it was not that different tire-use strategy that inadvertently put the #12 car behind the #3. 

“No, to be honest, one issue was that we didn’t expect Helio’s out-lap to be quite that strong on cold tires, regardless of their spec,” admitted Faustino. “And then the biggest problem was that we had basically stayed out too long on used-up tires. We had been going too slow at the end of that first stint, so Helio was only about a second-and-a-half behind when he pitted, which gave him the opportunity to jump us if he did everything right, and he did.

"Thankfully we had pace in hand to redress the balance at the next stops."

Faustino also pointed out that a revised mental approach from his driver was helping his performances in 2017.

“I just think Will is in a better spot this year,” he said. “He’s not worried about any other drivers, he’s really not. He’s just focused on himself and our performance on the #12 car, so he’s in a stronger frame of mind.

"And that means he’s also been better able to cope with frustrations like we’ve had at Barber and Phoenix.” 

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