On Tuesday, May 22, 2012, IndyCar officials announced that Lotus would not be allowed to boost the turbos in the engines. With the turbo boost, the cars were still not traveling as fast at the top cars, but the Lotus engines were at least capable of keeping up. As it stands, Jean Alesi will be starting last in 33rd and Simona de Silvestro will be starting in 32nd. The drivers are between 16 and 12 miles per hour slower than the top qualifier.
Although IndyCar does not intend to impose a final trial before the race begins, if any of the cars cannot keep up with the pack, IndyCar officials will not hesitate to park them. This is a matter of safety. If cars cannot stay within 105% of the time of the leader, then the car must be parked. Not only would the slow car be losing significant ground with each lap, but it would make it more dangerous by potentially getting in the way of faster cars.
There is one last thing that may help the two teams that use Lotus engines. When Simona de Silvestro swapped out her old engine for a new one, she gained a few miles per hour. Though Jean Alesi has not yet swapped out his engine, he is hopeful that he will get a similar increase in speed. This will still not put them at the front of the pack, but it may prevent the two drivers from being parked for going too slow. If the drivers change out their engines, then for the next race after the Indy 500, the drivers will receive a 10 position starting grid penalty.
With safety being so important, especially this season, if a car can't keep up, I would hope that the officials would park them. It is not fair that the Lotus engines are not up to par, but that is part of the game. This season, no one wants to see another driver die and that is what could happen if Lotus cars stay at their current speed and are out on the track creating obstacles for other, faster, cars. It is in the best interests of the race and the competitors and I would expect nothing less from IndyCar.
Kristin Watt has been a fan of motorsports since she was a young girl and she watched NASCAR races with her mother. That love of NASCAR quickly evolved into a great enjoyment of many different motorsports including everything from local dirt track action to the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans to the adrenaline rush of the extreme motocross events. She has been following motorsports for many years.