A rejuvenated Scott Dixon thinks his Honda package will be more competitive in 2018 with a new aero kit being used in the Indycars Championship.
The New Zealander will kick-off his 16th campaign with the Chip Ganassi outfit at Monday's season-opening round on the streets of St Petersburg, Florida and fans will get to see the new-look package in race mode for the first time.
Initial testing has Dixon believing the advantage that his Chevrolet rivals enjoyed last year won't be as significant, if any advantage at all.
"The Chevrolet had considerably more downforce at street courses, low grip road courses and short oval – maybe 500-700 more pounds of downforce and yet they still had more drag," Dixon told The Herald.
"Penske and the good [Chevrolet] teams are still going to be very strong I just think you may see more of a mix with the good Honda teams being closer to winning races than we saw last year."
The new aero kit will see cars have less downforce and Dixon's Chip Ganassi Team has opted to keep some valuable test days up their sleeve for once the season kicks off.
"The car feels good – it is definitely a big change of direction," he said. "We have been gradually adding downforce over the last five years and now it is almost a reduction of 25-30% especially on the road course and short oval.
"A different direction but it should make the cars a little trickier to drive and probably to get them in the box that you need for the race.
"Everything has gone pretty well in testing. We have kept a few test dates to the end of this month – we saved a few more to use later in the season."
The traditional series opener has been a place where Dixon has succeeded although he has never stood on the top step of the podium there.
"It would be a big deal if we were finally able to get to the top spot. Last year I think we had the speed to do it – the car was very fast – but we were on the wrong strategy and ended up third.
"It is a great place to start the season. It is just creeping out of winter in the mid-west and there is still snow on the ground so it is nice to get to kick off in a warm place.
"The city really embraces the race. Each year they keep improving the track. It has long straights and big braking zones – I think this year the braking zones should be able to create more passing with less downforce those passing areas get a lot bigger and easier to make mistakes.
"You are surrounded by concrete walls so it is not very forgiving."
As is always the case with the 37-year-old, Dixon has two major goals for the year ahead – to win the championship for a fifth time and to pick up a second Indianapolis 500 victory.
"The goals are definitely the same – win the 500 and win the championship," he said.
"Last year we had a pretty big shift going from one manufacturer to another. I think that really helped us. We learned a lot as a team.
"With the aero changes we should be a bit more equal.
"Everything changes so often even from race to race. You can't really dwell on last season's results or even the last race. The tyres change significantly and the tracks change and the competition changes."
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