The NTT IndyCar Series is the latest top-flight racing organization to embrace hybrid powertrain technology. The electric power boost is set to debut for the 2022 season in its Dallara-supplied race cars, which are presently powered by either Honda or Chevrolet.
Following on the heels of hybrid or electric powertrains now running in Formula 1, Le Mans, and Formula E competition , as well as elsewhere, IndyCar on Thursday said the combination of traditional internal-combustion engines and a single-source hybrid system will create more than 900 horsepower. The adoption of the technology will also put an end to drivers having to rely on external, handheld starters to fire up their cars in the event of a stall during a practice session, qualifying, or race; drivers will be able to restart their cars with the push of a button inside the cockpit. The series believes the hybrid powertrains will improve what is an already compelling on-track show.
According to IndyCar, “The hybrid technology will consist of a multi-phase motor, inverter, and electric-storage device that will create energy recovery from the car’s braking system. The addition of the hybrid technology to the traditional engine formula will provide some integral benefits for the competitors while enhancing the race action for the fans. In addition to allowing drivers to restart their cars from the cockpit, the system will increase the horsepower of the push-to-pass system and potentially improve the pace and overall time of races.”
The hybrid powertrain will be integrated into the push-to-pass system and provide a power boost to the tool already used by drivers for overtaking on road and street courses.
Thursday’s announcement also included news that the hybrid powertrains will delay the introduction of a new engine formula that had been scheduled previously to come into effect for the 2021 season. That formula will see an increase in displacement for today’s 2.2-liter twin-turbo V-6s to 2.4 liters. (The engines presently produce up to approximately 700 horsepower.) The delay also means the introduction of the new powertrains will coincide with the arrival of IndyCar’s next-generation chassis, giving the series a more substantially different look for its next era. IndyCar also hopes the move will entice another automaker or OEM to join the series alongside Honda and Chevy.
“It’s an exciting time for IndyCar with the forthcoming evolution of the cars and innovations like the hybrid powertrain being incorporated into the new engine,” IndyCar president Jay Frye said in a release. “As we move toward the future, we will remain true to our racing roots of being fast, loud, and authentic, and simultaneously have the ability to add hybrid technology that is an important element for the series and our engine manufacturers.”
New Honda Performance Development president Ted Klaus said, “Honda is committed to racing in order to develop people and technologies relevant to the future of our sport and our world. IndyCar offers us the perfect platform to prove-out both people and technologies in an environment where measurement of successes and failures is crystal clear.”
Jim Campbell, Chevrolet vice president of performance and motorsports, added, “Chevrolet supports delaying the implementation of the revised engine regulations until 2022 to coincide with the NTT IndyCar Series introduction of new technologies with the chassis. The partnership between Chevrolet and IndyCar remains a strong platform for showcasing relevant technologies that we incorporate in our production engines, and transfer learnings in performance, reliability, and efficiency between the racetrack and the showroom.”
IndyCar said the new engine regulations will be in place for six years, for the 2022–2027 seasons.