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Big IndyCar teams have a “huge advantage” with additional hybrid driving

Rahal was speaking after a 20-car group test on Tuesday on the Milwaukee Mile, where each automotive was equipped with the favored latest hybrid unit, which can make its official race debut July 5-7 on the midtown sports automotive track. Ohio.

Hybrid testing first began in August 2023, with development subsequently split between the powerhouse teams of engine suppliers Chevrolet (Arrow McLaren and Team Penske) and Honda (Andretti Global and Chip Ganassi Racing).

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However, the smaller teams within the series didn't have the chance to really experience the system until testing on the Indianapolis Road Course in March of this 12 months with the Honda-powered Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team.

Team Penske finished in the highest three fastest times within the Milwaukee test, followed by cars driven by Andretti and Arrow McLaren.

“I think the teams that get all the hybrid tests right… I don't care what they say, that's a huge advantage,” Rahal said.

“There is a lot to vary: manual regeneration, automatic regeneration, how much regeneration, what’s the gain, what’s it, what’s it. It's the other of F1, where every little thing is programmed and the motive force just drives.

“Here, the motive force has to do many of the work. Sometimes you possibly can go into automatic regeneration, but then you’ve to make use of the paddle to get an extra state of charge.

“It actually has a huge impact on how the automotive drives. That's what you're attempting to balance too, right? I feel that is easiest for me on a private level, nevertheless it didn't really work for the balance of my automotive. There are many things which might be changing.

“There is a lot to learn. Unfortunately, you can learn a lot in a very short time.”

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo: Jake Galstad / Motorsport images

The much-delayed hybrid powertrain will feature additional overtaking (push-to-pass) options that can give drivers more selection and control to extend competition heading in the right direction.

The system consists of a low-voltage (48 V) engine generator unit (MGU) and an energy storage system (ESS) – consisting of 20 ultracapacitors – each housed in a pump coupler situated between the combustion engine and the gearbox.

During regeneration, acting on the clutch shaft, the MGU produces power that will probably be stored within the ESS. Additional power is provided on request by the motive force through the identical engine-generator.

During competitions, automatic regeneration is out there by braking or throttle position, and manual regeneration can also be available using chosen paddles and buttons on the handlebar. Using the stored energy will only be possible manually, which will probably be done using a snap button, just like the present overtaking system.

Rahal said the common speed of 160 mph over the Milwaukee mile makes it difficult to evaluate the hybrid's impact.

“For me, today was a bit like a zoo trying to solve this issue in a short period of time,” added Rahal. “You're so focused on driving on such a brief oval that I feel it's difficult to maximise the hybrid effect.

“Lots is going on. It's a track with very low grip. You slide so much too. It's not the best thing to continually remind yourself to press the button. I feel eventually, because it becomes second nature, it should be high-quality. We just need to offer him a while to develop.

The test included several race simulations wherein the sector was divided into two groups to maintain the cars running close to one another.

“In the simulated restarts we did, using this feature gives a clear boost,” added Rahal. “I’d also say that in traffic, once you were really stuck, it was nice to find a way to achieve out and really feel loads of the advantages.

“I feel it will possibly make racing quite interesting. It's hard to continually remind yourself of this, but I feel the tip result will probably be positive.

“When you do a qualifying lap at high revs, the feeling is really nominal. But like I said, coming out of the corner, low revs, racing and stuff like that, it's a really big effect, which is cool.”

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