Report: Chris Berube reflects on tenure with Chevrolet’s IndyCar program

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It was announced last week that Chris Berube, the program manager who helped spearhead Chevrolet’s return to IndyCar in 2012, would be transferred to a different part of Chevrolet’s operation.

A year after Chevrolet finished 1-2-3 in the IndyCar point standings and 1-2-3-4 in the Indianapolis 500, Berube will now work out of General Motors’ Milford Proving Grounds in Michigan where he’s been named the engineering group manager for the test engineering & systems for the Global Vehicle Dynamics Center.

Since 2012, Chevrolet has won three manufacturer’s titles in IndyCar and the last two championships, with Scott Dixon and Will Power.

Berube was part of a lengthy Q&A with Motorsport.com.

Here’s a couple of interesting items from the interview.

On Chevrolet engine changes being pre-emptive while Honda engines don’t have a history of failing.

“Reliability is an ultimate priority for us, and so knowing our product is essential. Failures on track were really not allowed! So this year’s repair after St. Pete was because we didn’t think the engine would make it for their specified mileage [2500 miles in 2015]. We had to do something about it and so we sucked up the points penalty for repairing the engines ahead of schedule. That was tough, because you really don’t want to start the season on minus points!

“I don’t want to comment on HPD policy, but yes, we know our product well, examine engines very carefully as they progress through their mileage life. We weren’t perfect, we had engines fail, but I think we’re strong at figuring out what the issue was, understanding it, engineering a fix and then implementing that fix.”

On difference between Honda and Chevy’s ability to tailor engine throttle response and torque curves to a driver’s style.

“We didn’t set ourselves a certain number of variables, but we knew what the engine would allow reliably, and allowing variations that take the engine outside the reliability range was never going to be our policy.

“What I’d say is that it’s a constant negotiation process with each driver as to what they think they’re not getting that they feel they need. Depending on circumstances, you might feel OK to take a risk but the majority of the time, we preferred to work it out with the drivers, give them something they could win with, without putting the engine into the areas of risk.”