Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi and Pato O’Ward were in action on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, using the push-to-pass system at 1.5-bar to simulate the burst of released energy from a KERS unit.
IndyCar will replace the current 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6s with KERS-supplemented 2.4-liter twin-turbo V6s in 2023, with the target being a combined output of 900hp by 2025. It’s a move that VP of competition Bill Pappas spoke about with great enthusiasm with Motorsport.com yesterday. But today’s trial run, with the two Chevrolet- and two Honda-powered cars running at regular 1.3-bar but with the drivers applying short squirts of 1.5-bar boost to simulate the KERS effect, did not provide positive feedback.
Said Frye: “We came into today thinking this would precipitate more questions than answers, and that’s probably what happened. So that’s fine. We’re looking at how this could work in 2023 with the new hybrid system coming in.
“We did learn a lot. But it did also create a lot of other questions.
“If you think about 2023, in addition to the new engine – the 2.4-liter twin-turbo V6 which will have another 100hp – the new hybrid system, too, will have the ability to have an additional 100 more horsepower.
“So how does that work? With the push-to-pass system we have with the current engine formula, we can simulate a little bit how it could possibly work, which is what we tried to do today.
“I think [the drivers] had some moments… going into a corner – instead of at 230[mph] they were going in at 236. There were some different reactions, but it was really good – good learning.”
Currently on ovals, the cars run at 1.3-bar turbo boost and there is no push-to-pass facility. The horsepower is increased to 1.5-bar only for Fast Friday and qualifying weekend at the Indianapolis 500. On road and street courses, the cars run 1.5-bar standard, and then have up to 200sec of push-to-pass 1.65-bar boost per race, generating an extra 60hp, approximately.
“Today, we got a lot of data off the cars to give us some direction about which approach to go with,” said Frye. “Think about the way we currently have push-to-pass – with the hybrid system that will be obsolete, it’ll be different. You’ll have a bank of energy that you have until the hybrid system [is utilized] and you’ll be able to recharge it, it’ll be on all the time. With the push-to-pass, there’s an amount of time or an amount of pushes; we’ve had it a couple of different ways.
“So that’s what we looked at today. We just gave the drivers 200sec – you go make a 20-lap run, use it as you want to. I think most used about half on the 20-lap run, so 100sec. It was interesting to see how it played out.”
Frye later added: “We had a 20-lap run basically without it and then 20-lap runs with [boosts of] 10sec duration and then one with 5sec [boosts], and [the drivers] liked the shorter version better. That was interesting; we thought it would be in the opposite direction, that they’d like it for a longer period of time…
“We stuck to the test plan today, we learned a lot and it will be implemented into our thinking going forward, and ultimately have the best product going into 2023.”
Asked how much horsepower the cars will be running in 2023, Frye replied: “It’ll be pushing 900. The hybrid system has the potential to have 100 right out of the box. That doesn’t mean we’ll do that. It might be over a period of time. The new 2.4-liter will have close to 100 [extra] right out of the box.
“Going into 2023 with 200 more is probably too much, so we’ll look at the hybrid system to see what we can do to limit that into 2023, and then probably over a period of time we’ll increase the power of the hybrid unit.”
Although Pappas yesterday estimated the 2.4-liter hybrids will likely first hit the track next summer, Frye said it would be “January/February next year.”
He also said that today’s test validated the aero changes made during testing last fall, as IndyCar seeks to improve the racing at the Indianapolis 500.
“Yes, the aero changes we’ve made to the car for this year’s 500 I think will be really good,” he said. “That’s what they were running today. And the same drivers we had last fall did the same program today and… there were no surprises.”
– Additional reporting, Steve Wittich, Trackside Online