“More questions than answers” after IndyCar’s mock KERS test

IndyCar president Jay Frye admits that Friday's test to simulate the effects of the hybrid power units had not been completely satisfactory, but had offered some “good learning”.

Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda

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-litre twin-turbo V6s with KERS-supplemented 2.4-litre twin-turbo V6s in 2023, with the target being a combined output of 900hp by 2025.

Friday'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, provided more questions than answers.

“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," said Frye.

“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-litre 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.”

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, Jack Harvey, Meyer Shank Racing Honda, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda, James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport Honda

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, Jack Harvey, Meyer Shank Racing Honda, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda, James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport Honda

Photo by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images

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 200 seconds of push-to-pass 1.65-bar boost per race, generating an extra 60hp approximately.

“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 utilised] 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. We just gave the drivers 200s – 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 estimated it would be “January/February next year" when the 2.4-litre hybrids will likely first hit, and that  Friday's test validated the aero changes made during testing last fall, as IndyCar seeks to improve the racing at the Indianapolis 500.

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