Newgarden: "still a lot to be worked through" with hybrid engine

Only three weeks have passed since the checkered flag fell on the 2023 season for the IndyCar Series, but there has been little time to rest with an offseason plan full of testing for next year’s hybrid engine.

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

The current 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engines are paired with hybrid components, which are small enough to fit inside the bell housing. The hybrid unit provides up to an additional 150 horsepower when deployed, similar to the push-to-pass system that has been a fixture in the series, and regenerates under braking. Automatic and manual regeneration methods have been a thorough part of the testing process.

A two-day test at Sebring International Raceway in August set the tone, with more than 1,400 miles logged courtesy of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon (Honda) and Team Penske’s Will Power (Chevrolet).

Following the conclusion of the season, the testing program has ramped up. There was a trip to made to the 1.25-mile oval formerly known as Gateway just a few days after the season finale at Laguna Seca. The most recent venture came last Monday, with testing commencing around the rolling hills of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

Newly crowned two-time IndyCar champion Alex Palou was in the seat previously occupied by CGR team-mate Dixon for the two recent tests. Following the oval running, the Spaniard was positive over the process and expressed some of the uniqueness of the new system.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

“It was great,” Palou said. “Honestly, I was a bit surprised on how it felt. It felt actually good. The car felt really good. There was still a lot of stuff going on, like we were trying more regen, less regen, automatic, manual. We are still trying to put everything together, but honestly, it felt okay. Is it going to be a big difference or no? I don't think we are at a 100 percent of the abilities of the engine or the battery. But yeah, I don't know yet.”

Reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden has also been part of the learning process, being the other Chevrolet representative opposite Team Penske team-mate Power. Ahead of pounding laps around the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course, the Tennessee native shared where things stand.

“Well, it's definitely in development,” Newgarden told “There's still a lot to be worked through, but it's going to be different next year. There's going to be a new opportunity for everybody to have a different resource now to develop, to try and extract time out of and try and perfect as far as the driving and the approach. It's been interesting to go through it. It is definitely different than what we've been doing in the past. There's still development. And I say that in that they're still trying to figure out exactly how this is going to be implemented; what's the final product going to look like? I think that's in the works. But having driven it as well and, and gone through it up to this point, it's going to be exciting to have something new to work with and just have another tool in the box to try and maximize.”

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

Newgarden then went a step further to clarify some of the ongoings with the development, as the unit is primed to be on the grid come the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 10, 2024.

“It's like anything, you have to run something and define what the rules are,” he said. “It could be like push-to-pass for instance, where originally push to pass only had 10 pushes and then all of a sudden it developed to 200 seconds or 150 seconds, and it was at your discretion. So, I think the implementation of how the hybrid system and component is built in, that is what takes time to learn and develop. And it takes multiple feedback from different drivers, different teams, and you've got the sanctioning body and you've got the manufacturers all weighing in trying to figure out what they think is going to be ultimately, the best product for the sport.”

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