Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Will Power, the Team Penske driver who has done extensive testing with the series’ new hybrid system planned for implementation later in the year, gave this week’s test on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course a resounding thumbs up.
“No issues, no tow-ins, just smooth,” he said. “It all went very smoothly.”
The numbers support that. The three days of testing by 10 series drivers achieved 3,196 miles (1,446 laps) without incident. On Tuesday, Alexander Rossi’s car stalled on track, but he was able to re-fire the engine by himself using the hybrid system.
INDYCAR’s hybrid power unit, a collaboration between Chevrolet and Honda, will enhance the racing action with additional horsepower and further the series’ efforts to deliver the most competitive motorsport on the planet. The new 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine with hybrid technology will feature additional overtake (“push-to-pass”) options, ultimately giving INDYCAR SERIES drivers more choices and control – enhancing the on-track competition and excitement.
Power said the development of the hybrid system has made significant strides since he drove with it in the late months of 2023. INDYCAR officials have not committed to a debut date of the system or announced rules pertaining to it, but Power is confident it will be good for the series and its partners.
The test involved four teams – two each from Chevrolet and Honda – and 10 drivers. That represented just under 40 percent of those expected to take the green flag for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding when the 17-race season begins March 10.
Drivers testing with Chevrolet included Arrow McLaren’s trio: David Malukas (Monday), Rossi (Tuesday) and Pato O’Ward (Wednesday). Reigning Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge champion Josef Newgarden took over for Team Penske teammate Power on Wednesday.
Honda employed five drivers, including Andretti Global’s Colton Herta and Kyle Kirkwood, who drove two days (Tuesday and Wednesday). Chip Ganassi Racing’s youngest three drivers – Marcus Armstrong and rookies Kyffin Simpson and Linus Lundqvist, respectively – drove. Armstrong was last year’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year while Lundqvist won the INDY NXT by Firestone title in 2022.
The hybrid system is made up of the Motor Generator Unit (MGU) and Energy Storage System (ESS), both of which fit inside the bellhousing located between the combustion engine and the gearbox. Multiple strategies for regeneration and deployment have been tested as the power unit builds and transmits energy through the MGU before being saved in the ultracapacitor ESS.
The additional horsepower is deployed through the same motor generator. Unlike the traditional INDYCAR “push-to-pass” system the hybrid power until will not have a restriction on total time used over the course of a race.
While there are many benefits to the hybrid system, including new overtaking strategies, Power said using it in the cockpit doesn’t take much adjustment.
“It’s hardly different, to be honest,” he said. “With (automatic) regeneration, you push a button on (corner) exit, and it’s not like you do that every corner.
“But every time you come in (the pits) the engine guys are making changes, going through the process, learning things. It’s going to be good.”