INDYCAR Photo by Chris Owens
INDYCAR Photo by Chris Owens

INDYCAR CEO Miles stresses new engines are ‘hybrid’ not ‘electric’

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Just to be clear, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles doesn’t want any misconception regarding the new engine formula for the NTT IndyCar Series that will begin competition in 2022.

The new engine platform will be “Hybrid” not “Electric.”

The engine itself will be an internal combustion engine with “hybrid technology” that will be a renewable source of power generated from the car’s braking system. That extra power will be utilized in a hybrid component that will allow the cars in excess of 900 horsepower with a much bigger boost in the “Push to Pass” system.

Ever since INDYCAR made the announcement on July 31 that a Hybrid engine platform would be used in the series beginning in 2022, some race fans jumped to the conclusion that it was an “electric engine.”

That conclusion is completely inaccurate.

“It’s pretty simple — we are committed to louder and faster,” Miles told NBC Sports.com. “This is not Formula E racing.

“This gives us more power. It’s going to be very exciting for the drivers when they hit push-to-pass to get 900 horsepower. It’s going to be safer and provide for more continuity in the racing where if a car stalls out on the track instead of disrupting the racing, the new starter should be able to get them going again without disrupting with a delay.

“What’s not to like? If the technology is interesting to current manufacturers, it is true to our current form of racing but adds a couple of attributes to power and safety.

“I think (INDYCAR President) Jay Frye has tested the idea with not only Honda and Chevrolet, but with other prospects before coming to the conclusion this it is the thing to do.”

By adding hybrid technology to the new powerplant, it helps INDYCAR remain relevant with the desires and needs of the automotive industry. Manufacturers often use INDYCAR as a testing platform for electronic components, brake systems and other components that can provide technology transfer into the consumer automotive marketplace.

By delaying a new engine platform from 2021 to 2022, it gives current engine partners Honda and Chevrolet time to develop and test the new formula. Also, of importance, it gives other prospective automotive manufacturers a chance to decide if they want to participate in the series.

Such automotive manufacturers as Porsche have said in the past, they are focused on Hybrid engine technology and electrification. With INDYCAR moving to Hybrid, other manufacturers might have some interest.

“It wouldn’t surprise me at all that they picked this moment in time to get involved if they pop in one more manufacturer,” NTT IndyCar Series and IMSA Sports Car team owner Michael Shank told NBC Sports.com. “I’m hoping it makes a difference. From Honda and Acura, it makes a big difference. I believe it does for most manufacturers.

“I don’t know what the net gain will be from all of that but I’m hoping we get another manufacturer in there.”

Shank runs the Acura NSX effort in IMSA and was asked by NBC Sports how far away is full electric racing for either IMSA or IndyCar?

“Less than 10 years, probably,” Shank said. “I don’t know that for a fact. INDYCAR wants us to be ‘Loud and Fast’ and that tells me they don’t want to move away from the (internal combustion) power units. I hope they don’t because I’m older school.

“Our world is electric. That is our world. I’m getting my head around it and I’m getting my engineers to really dig into it and be prepared on the IndyCar side and the sports car side. It’s coming there, too.”

Meantime, when it comes to INDYCAR, as Miles stressed, it’s “Hybrid” not “Electric” coming in 2022.

F1 tests: Mercedes innovates with wheel adjustment system

Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images
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MONTMELÓ, Spain — Veteran Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time on the second day of Formula One preseason testing on Thursday, but Mercedes still garnered more attention by introducing an innovative wheel adjustment system.

On-board footage showed defending champion Lewis Hamilton pulling the steering wheel back and forth on the front straight to apparently change the angle of the front wheels on his Mercedes car.

The team stayed tight-lipped about the car’s new feature but guaranteed it was “safe” and “legal.”

“I probably won’t shed a great deal more light than what you saw on the TV but yeah we have a system in the car, it’s a novel idea,” team technical director James Allison told F1 TV. ”We’ve got a name for it, it’s called DAS, if you’re interested, and it just introduces an extra dimension for the steering, for the driver, which we hope will be useful during the year. But precisely how we use it and why we use it, that’s something we will keep to ourselves.”

Allison said governing body FIA knew in advance that the team was introducing the new system.

“It’s something we’ve been talking to them (about) for some time,” he said. “The rules are pretty clear about what’s permitted on steering systems and we’re pretty confident that it matches those requirements. I’m pleased we got it on the car, it seems to be useful, and we’ll see over the coming days how it benefits us.”

Hamilton said he was still trying to get used to the system, but praised the team for coming up with the innovation.

“I’ve only had one morning on (it, so) I don’t really have a lot to talk about with it. We’re trying to get on top of it, understand it, but safety-wise no problem today and the FIA are OK with the project.

“For me it’s really encouraging to see that my team is continuing to innovate and stay ahead of the game, and I think that’s down to the great minds in the team and so hopefully that’ll work to our benefit.”

Hamilton led the time charts on Wednesday but was only ninth-fastest on Thursday.

MORE: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas fastest in Day 1 of F1 practice
MORE: Sergio Perez fastest early on Day 2 of F1 Practice

The 40-year-old Raikkonen, who has a chance this season to break the record for most race starts in F1, was fastest with a time of 1 minute, 17.091 seconds in his Alfa Romea. He was 0.2 seconds quicker than Sergio Pérez with Racing Point. Daniel Ricciardo of Renault was third.

Raikkonen caused a red flag near the end of the afternoon session when his car stopped on the track with an apparent mechanical issue. The Finnish driver had spun earlier in the session, as did Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, Romain Grosjean of Haas and Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, formerly known as Toro Rosso.

Grosjean had the most laps among the 13 drivers who went to the track on Thursday, with 158.

Bottas was the slowest driver of the day, while Sebastian Vettel was sixth-fastest with Ferrari.

Pérez had set the quickest time in the morning session. The Mexican driver had been third fastest on Wednesday, behind Hamilton and Bottas.

Drivers will be back on the track on Friday to close out the first week of testing. Teams will have another three days to test next week.

Preseason testing has been reduced from eight to six days to help compensate for the record 22 races on the calendar, including a new Vietnam Grand Prix and the return of the Dutch GP. Midseason testing also has been eliminated.

The season opens on March 15 at the Australian GP.

The Barcelona-Catalunya track will host the Spanish GP on May 10.