Whincup: Why Supercars should adopt paddle shift
Wednesday 5th May, 2021 - 6:00am
Jamie Whincup has explained why he believes the introduction of paddle shift would be the right move for Supercars.
Earlier this year it was revealed paddle shift technology could be introduced to the category, coinciding with the launch of Gen3.
At the latest round of the championship, the Tasmania SuperSprint, drivers were presented with steering wheel prototypes and diagrams showing the placement of paddle shifters.
While the lion’s share of drivers Speedcafe.com has spoken to are against the move, Whincup is part of a select few who are pro paddle shift.
“The car will most likely have an electronic actuator for the gearbox, so, [you] can put a stick in, that is basically a big heavy switch. It’s just a switch.
“You can see someone moving a gear stick inside the car, but to have a big mechanism like that for a switch, doesn’t really make sense to me.
“So, I’m pro paddle shift, because the 18-year-old kid, he doesn’t know what a gear stick is. You know what I mean? It doesn’t make any sense.
“There’s no manual cars around anymore. Everything new, and modern, and fresh, is paddle shift.
“Yeah, I’ve got a soft spot for the gearstick, 100 percent, and if it was just about me and about what I want to see going around, then yeah, let’s put the gear stick in, because that’s what I know. But in the interests of the category, run the paddle shift, because we have to appeal to that 18- to 24-year-old. And that’s what they know and that’s what they can relate to.”
Supercars has said it will evaluate the current sequential ‘stick’ shift alongside the proposed paddle shift in its testing of the Gen3 prototype, which is slated for the middle of this year.
However, category management haven’t said definitively whether it will make the switchover for 2022.
Part of the conjecture surrounding paddle shift is not only the mechanism, but the removal of rev-matching.
In a tender released by Supercars, ‘throttle blip’ is referenced as a function of the Control Electrics & Electronics System.
Speaking with Speedcafe.com earlier this year, Team 18 driver Mark Winterbottom said Supercars could adopt a Brazilian Stock Car-style set-up of paddle shift, which runs without automatic throttle blip.
However, Whincup said that would not be possible for Supercars with what has been proposed for Gen3.
“Well, if it’s an electronic actuator, it would have to be auto blip,” said Whincup.
“You can’t run an electronic actuator without an auto blip. It just doesn’t work. So, it will be auto blip, but you can still get the clutch. You can still run the clutch.
“So no, there’ll probably be a change of the guard. It’ll be a different way to drive, the Gen3 car over this car.”
While most drivers are keen to maintain the status quo, ironically neither the Ford Mustang nor the Chevrolet Camaro offer a sequential ‘stick’ option.
Ford and Chevrolet offer its Mustang and Camaro respectively in both a GM-built 10-speed automatic with paddle shift and an H-pattern six-speed manual.
Whincup is of the belief that the next generation of fans will resonate with paddle shift more so than the current set-up.
“The young kids won’t be changing gears, they’ll just be on the paddle,” he said.
“I’d like to see the gearstick, but what’s best for the category, if I was designing the car, I’d run paddle shift, a hundred percent. It’s pretty clear to me.
“But we’ve got to keep moving on, though there’s a lot of people that have been around a while, talking about the good old days. The sport is no bigger and stronger than what it is right now.
“We’ve got to keep moving forward. We can’t be getting stuck in the past.”
Whincup last week moved to calm general anxiety around Gen3, assuring the project will “100 percent” be ready for rollout next year.
The Red Bull Ampol Racing star heads to The Bend Motorsport Park this weekend for Round 4 of the Repco Supercars Championship positioned second in the standings, only behind team-mate Shane van Gisbergen.