SPEEDWAY, Ind. — By 2023, IndyCar is pushing to run hybrid cars in an effort to be more environmentally friendly.
Four drivers got a taste of what that might look like on Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“It’s always great to run here at the speedway,” said Scott Dixon, who represented Chip Ganassi Racing and Honda for the test.
“Tried some options with some overtake and things. Planning for the future obviously. Just trying to get a jump start on what will work, what won’t work.”
Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport also tested for Honda. Penske’s Josef Newgarden and Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward both tested for Chevy.
The plan, according to IndyCar, is to pair a 2.4-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine with a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS). The KERS will not be available to track running until at least 2022 and the 2.4-liter engines aren’t ready yet either, so IndyCar has decided to try and replicate its effects by adding 100 extra horsepower to the push-to-pass option with its current 2.2-liter V6 engine.
Push-to-pass has been installed as an option on IndyCars for the last decade or so.
The KERS is a system in which a car’s kinetic energy under braking is stored up in a reservoir. That electrical energy can then be harvested for later use.
It was this extra boost of horsepower from push-to-pass that IndyCar asked drivers to test out on the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday.
The testing session was choreographed to replicate certain racing situations in which you get a bigger boost of horsepower from push-to-pass, similar to what you would get with the KERS.
“This is new for us. We’ve never done this on a (superspeedway) oval,” said IndyCar president Jay Frye. “We tried this a couple years ago at Pocono, Phoenix and Gateway, but the current push-to-pass system is different than what it was then.”
“I came into today with no expectations, because it’s a data-gathering thing for all of us,” said Josef Newgarden. “IndyCar wanted to gather some data on push-to-pass and to understand that. I think it went well. When you learn something in testing you’re happy about it.”
Frye said the plan is to hold another similar test next week at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth with seven cars. Then they plan to come back to IMS with at least 17 cars.
The plan to change over to a hybrid engine has also added fuel to the fire that a third engine manufacturer could be coming to IndyCar in the near future.
Frye said that is an ongoing process.