IndyCar Hybrid Test an Eye-Opener: 'It's a Whole New Ball of Wax'

indianapolis, in during testing at the indianapolis motor speedway photo by joe skibinski ims photo
IndyCar Hybrid Test at Indianapolis an Eye-OpenerPenske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

It will be a new world, and one with more buttons to push.

The development of the IndyCar Series hybrid engine, which is expected to become a racing reality later this season, continued Thursday and Friday with extensive test runs on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Six IndyCar teams put the new engine through hundreds of laps on the 2.4-mile IMS road course. The hybrid package has been run through more than 20,000 on-track miles during the development and adjustment process.

“It’s definitely a lot of new stuff for all of us as a team to digest and run through,” said Ed Carpenter Racing driver Rinus VeeKay. “It is fairly similar; there are just a lot more buttons I need to press, and a lot more stuff I need to go through. Usually, I have a clue about knowing what we’re doing, but this is all new, so I’m still learning.”

indianapolis, in during testing at the indianapolis motor speedway photo by joe skibinski ims photo
Engineers gather data during the two-day test of IndyCar’s hybrid engines.Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

The new engine will open the door to more push-to-pass options and allow drivers to perform engine restarts. There will be a new landscape to explore.


“It’s a whole new ball of wax for me,” Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal said. “To understand how you do the (hybrid regeneration), whether it's automatic regen, braking regen, throttle regen manual, which is interesting because I think everybody will play it a little bit different. It's an element that we're going to have to watch a lot.”

Romain Grosjean described the hybrid as “a complex system. It’s going to take a lot from what we could see this morning. There’s a lot of options available, and it’s up for us to find out. It’s quite different. There are a lot of buttons to push. Again, it’s the beginning.”

Sting Ray Robb said the restart capabilities add a prominent new element.

“That’s really good to see, because you can go long in a brake zone, stall your car and spin around, and we’ve got a way to restart instead of waiting on a safety crew to get to us,” he said. “The innovation in the series has been good to see. … The whole package seems to be doing its job quite well, and I think that’s just a testament to the 20,000+ miles that we’ve put into the car.”

The additional weight of the hybrid system has been a matter of discussion, in particular how setups will be impacted.

“It’s very heavy and in the back of the car, so the setup is going to have to change a lot,” Grosjean said.