CHEVROLET INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS: Team Chevy Hybrid Test Notes & Quotes

Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course hosted two days of 2.2-liter twin turbo direct injected V6 engine with hybrid technology testing, with six drivers and three teams representing Chevrolet, gaining experience and valuable time logged with the new NTT INDYCAR SERIES technology package on board.
With 400 laps (975.6 miles) turned during Thursday’s test, Friday saw additional crucial laps and miles made on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.
Representing Chevrolet on track Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course include Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, AJ Foyt Racing’s Sting Ray Robb, and Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Romain Grosjean.
Friday saw the Bowtie brand represented by Team Chevy drivers Christian Rasmussen of Ed Carpenter Racing, Santino Ferrucci of AJ Foyt Racing, and Agustin Canapino of Juncos Hollinger Racing on track during the second day of hybrid testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
With this two-day test complete, all drivers and teams of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES have now tested the 2.2-liter twin turbo direct-injected V6 engine with hybrid technology.


Santino Ferrucci, No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet:

“I love it. For my driving style in particular, it’s a huge help for me, the way you can control it to rotate the car. I’m a very oversteer-happy, rear-end happy kind of driver. My current issue with the car we have now, especially since we’ve put all the weight up top, has been when you come off the brakes and roll into the speed, the weight creates a massive understeer and front wash. I’ve really struggled to obviously adapt. It’s one of my Achilles heels. Having the hybrid system in is so much better, plus it’s really fun because it adds a depth to the driving and being able to think. You have the hybrid system and the overtake system, you have the way you’re regenerating, so many different things that I feel like it’s making it more of a drivers’ car. The series is already so tight between having this car for so long, set ups for every team are pretty good across the board, to add another aspect to where the driver can make a difference is huge.”

Do you feel the additional weight in the car?

“Yes and no. What’s nice about the weight is you can kind of feel it down the straight, because it doesn’t kind of feel like it’s going as quick, which is partially true. Also, today it’s really hard to tell because the air is also really heavy. Is it a fair comparison? Not really. But the weight is not an issue because it’s so low, and for me being so low, I can put the ballast back in the bulkhead of the car, so we can get the weight distribution where we’d like back. For me, I felt the aeroscreen affects way more than I have the hybrid. This is just a lot of fun, so I’m very much enjoying myself out there.”

In terms of restarting the car, how are you faring?

“I haven’t done it yet. I did do the new reverse, which is really freaky. It’s weird just letting the clutch out and then just hitting the car rolling back. It’s quite strange. It takes a lot of the driver error and stalls out of it. Honestly, for the safety side of things, it’s so much better. You won’t have the AMR Safety Team coming out over the wall to get out there, and their chances of getting injured are so much less. For us, to be put in reverse and not stalling, speeding up sessions and avoiding red flags is so much better. I think the way they’ve implemented the hybrid with both manufacturers have done a phenomenal job.

What was the pre-test preparation like?

“Chevy took their time and came to every team and sat us down. They had a full explanation. They got through and answered all our questions. It’s one of those things where they’re very positive about moving this forwrad, and then today, working through all of the systems. How to do the brake, on-throttle, off-throttle, the way that we’re saving and how we can use it throughout the lap. They’ve been incredibly open about it, and it’s been such an easy adaptation as a driver to move into this and be working in it. I’m not fully comfortable with it, but I am very much enjoying it, and I do wish and can’t wait until we have it in the series full time.”

Walk us through a lap and where you would use it, where it’s different than without…

“I’m using it to start the lap. I’m using it coming off of the banking to hold the car stable under the first initial hit; it’s really easy to lock. For all of your corners that are slightly more than 90 degrees where you have entry and stability to a front wash, the way you can transition in and out of the hybrid you can calm the car down. You’re really using it as a balancing tool, and the energy they’re giving you for a lap, it’s a lot of work to be using it every lap, depleting it and reusing it, you’re very busy mentally driving the car, not just physically anymore. So I think the races are now very long, very difficult, adding this step is going to add to driver fatigue and you’re going to have to train extra hard on everything that you do. It just needs to become second nature. Right now, for every team in the paddock, how we have the button layout, the steering wheel isn’t exactly fully adapted yet for the hybrid system, so there’s a little bit more thought process going into it. Where my button is, it’s right on my PLC. I’ve hit the PLC numerous times on my lap to deploy the hybrid on numerous laps. It’s going to become easier once we build the steering wheels around the system, but for testing, its honestly working just great.”

Christian Rasmussen, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet:

“It was good. It’s obviously very new for us. It’s still nice to have someone (in regard to teammate Rinus VeeKay testing Thursday) to sort out the wrinkles a little bit, but it’s good. I think we gained some valuable data yesterday, and planned some today, then today it’s just continuing learning and doing the best we can.”

What was the pre-test prep like for you?

“We had the sim. We drove it in the sim and trained in there, then just getting into all of the procedural stuff so you know where all the buttons are that you’re going to use. It’s fairly simple. Then, a lot of hands-on stuff for me today, getting to use it, getting to know it a little bit better, see what works, see what doesn’t in terms of driving it and see where you can extract time out of it.”

How is it?

“It’s definitely fun. There’s definitely a little boost where you’re going to use it in a different place than you use the overtake. It’s a good little boost, you can definitely feel it. And then, running around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in an Indy car, is always a good day.”

Rinus VeeKay, No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet:

“Pretty bit of a chilly morning, but it’s nice to get started with the hybrid. It’s definitely a lot of new stuff for all of us as a team to digest and run through. Pretty good learning so far. We got more running in than I thought with the cool temperatures, but a good start.”

How different is the hybrid?

“It is fairly similar, there are just a lot more buttons I need to press, and a lot more stuff I need to go through. Usually, I have a clue about knowing what we’re doing, but this is all new so I’m still learning. I hated that I could not give the team much feedback on what we need to do.”

What do you notice about the balance, especially with the weight difference? Especially since you drove this weekend at Thermal compared to now, is that noticeable?

“It’s hard for now, since I haven’t really run my qualifying-ish… I haven’t really tried that hard. Also, we haven’t run the Indianapolis road course tire yet, so I can’t really tell. Of course, with the regeneration, there is some kind of balance shift on braking, but we’re still figuring everything out.”

What are you working on today from an automatic or manual regen or deploy standpoint?

“Making sure we run through everything, and we’ve got a good read on how everything works. Getting a read on what is better and what I prefer too.”

Were you able to get a chance to test out the restart on track?

“Actually, I did a restart out there on pit lane for the first time. It felt the same. The guys were a lot happier, and they were all cheering. It’s basically a toggle I put to the side, and it fires up.”

If you go long in a braking zone like in a practice session, you should be able to restart yourself?

“Yes, I think there’s going to be quite a few less yellows on street courses, that’s for sure.”

What was pre-test prep like?

“I started talking with the team about that yesterday, sort of like a normal prep day, to go over everything, making sure I understand what I am, or they are talking about, when I say change something. It is pretty clear. It’s not like a different kind of math we have to learn. It’s just new. It felt pretty good. My engineer Matt Barnes and I just went over some extra stuff that’s pretty standard to be honest. We’re focusing on hybrid and hybrid only, and making sure tomorrow when Christian (Rasmussen) jumps in the car, he can do a lot more hard running and I get most of the bugs out of the way.”

Sting Ray Robb, No. 41 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet:

“It’s been good so far. We haven’t got to do the on-track restart yet, but some of the other cars have and it works. So that’s really good to see, because you can go long in a brake zone, stall your car and spin around, and we’ve got a way to restart instead of waiting on a safety crew to get to us. The innovation in the series has been good to see. I think it’s good to have a new hybrid unit going into the car with the help of Honda and Chevy both working together super well. The whole package seems to be doing its job quite well, and I think that’s just a testament to the 20,000+ miles that we’ve put into the car.”

Does it feel remarkably different today than what you were driving Saturday and Sunday in Thermal?

“Yeah, a little bit. I think part of that is the weight. It’s a little bit heavier. So, minimum corner speeds seem like they’re going to be a little bit different now, but the power down seems great coming out of the front straightway here at (Indianapolis Motor Speedway). I’m watching my deltas trickle away some time, which is good. The regeneration on braking, I haven’t felt any huge difference yet so that’s kind of good. I was a little bit worried that it would get to a point where the handling of the car would change. I’m sure that if we’re super aggressive with the regeneration, which we will try, we can see that balance shift in the brake zones, but for now, it seems like its doing its job just fine without having to change the setup.”

When we’ve talked to some at these tests in the past, we’ve discussed auto and manual regeneration. What are you working on today?

“This morning we tried in our install lap to do some manual regen. Still a little bit of work to there on our side, but the automatic regen seems to be the most usable because you’re not moving your hand on the wheel in the middle of the brake zone or corner to hold the button down which is hard on the drivers. It gives us more opportunity and more tools to work with as drivers. I think as we get in to racing, we’ll see some more of that manual regen, especially during caution flags. The auto regen is a map and preset from the team, so it’ll be more up to the driver to utilize those tools in the right scenario.”

How about the deploy options? Are you doing those today?

“It’s pretty standard right now. It’s been pretty cold this morning, so getting up to temp and doing install laps has been the main goal. Minimal deploy so far but seems to be working as intended.”

Do you see this changing the racing at all?

“I think so. I think that it allows different strategies to be applied. It’s a matter of how you regen, how much you regen, and how much you deploy. It’s seems to be similar in the sense of push-to-pass when you’re at lower speeds. When you’re at maximum velocity, it doesn’t have a lot of help. I’m interested to see what it’s like with the push-to-pass. I think with those two complimenting each other, and maybe trying to supplement one or the other to save one or the other during a race might be useful. I think that it could change the racing, but at the same time, everyone has the same package to work with so it will be who uses it the wisest.”

What was pre-test prep like for you and the team?

“We had varying slideshows we went through. It seems like they’ve done a lot of work ahead of time, honestly. I think part of that is letting drivers be drivers and not engineers, which is nice. I’m happy that we’re getting a chance to do this before it’s introduced. I think it would have really been tough initially for the drivers that for the drivers who ran the first half of the 20,000 miles versus the second half like we are now. Honda, Chevy, INDYCAR, all of the above, they’re all working on this package, and so they’re all trying to create the best opportunities for the drivers and the teams to perform and have those tools so there can be different strategies in a race. It seems pretty flawless at the moment, which I’m honestly really excited about. The functionality of the unit is working well.”

Is it going to lengthen the braking zones?

“I think the weight of the car might, but while I was out there today, it’s cold and I was on used tires from Thermal, and I was still braking close to the same spot that I was during the race last year. I will say, in the few laps that I have done here, I’m really excited about our Indy GP car. It felt promising, so that might be a different story separate from the hybrid unit. But I think that the regen could help braking, especially balance on entry, it’s just a matter of if you deploy at the right time and not have that capacity used up on the brake zone. If you use it up on the brake zone, that’s where it will change the balance halfway through. That’s where the issue kind of comes in for the driver where we have to pay attention.”

Agustin Canapino, No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet:

“Honestly, I like it. It’s different. Of course, it was our first time with the system. It’s a totally different system. I like it because I love the technology. It’s impressive because of the way you have free extra power because the extra system gives you the extra power. Of course, it’s difficult to manage, but this is only the beginning. The good thing is it’ll give more interesting races in INDYCAR. I like it. It’s only the beginning, but definitely it’s a really good system, and I want to do many more laps to understand better the way to maximize the system and use more time to not only have more power, but I want to have more balance in the car. You have more power, but you can change the balance in the car. So, it’s wonderful.”

How much did you learn from teammate Romain Grosjean’s feedback?

“This is a good point. Every driver wants something different, I think. Every driver drives totally different than each other. I think this is another interesting part. For example, for me, the way to regen the power is different than Romain (Grosjean) so far. But, again, this is only the beginning. You want to have a better way to deploy and regen the power, for today for example, I prefer to use another way to regen than Romain (Grosjean).”

You mentioned the sim. Do you think this is something you can go to the sim and be able to decide, this is the best way to do that?

“Yes, definitely. It’s funny because the first (thing) I said to Ricardo (Juncos), we need to develop this in the sim, because this we could manage that and work on that in the sim. You need to do a really good job to simulate everything. The behavior of the battery is different, between the volts and everything, it’s very complicated. But definitely the sim is now with the hybrid system, is a really powerful tool.”

Romain Grosjean, No. 78 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet:

“It was a very fresh morning. We didn’t do much. We just had to wait for the temperature to rise. The car went out and we did a couple of runs just covering the basics.”

Why is it so important to have this test?

“It’s a complex system. It’s going to take a lot from what we could see this morning. There’s a lot of options available and it’s up for us to find out. Yes, it’s very early in testing compared to the knowledge of some of the others, but we’ll try to do our best.”

How different is it in the cockpit for you as a driver?

“It’s quite different. There are a lot of buttons to push. Again, it’s the beginning.”

Do you feel you catch yourself, or the team is in these one day, or couple days, trying to make up for that massive ground you guys have? What’s the thought process now that you have the hybrid unit?

“The thought process is to understand the system, and to understand to run it, and understand what it does in the car. It’s very heavy and (located) in the back of the car, so the setup is going to have to change a lot. We’ll try to do our best, and Chevy has been helping us on all of the project.”

Is it going to require more thinking from the drivers’ standpoint during a race?

“I don’t know yet. I can see a potential situation where it (could), but it’s up to us to stay on top of it, but yes, there will be more thinking in watching the dash.”

What do you think it does for the racing? Will there be more yellows? Will this affect the strategy?

“I guess you can argue that there will be less yellows because you can restart your car. The rest, I don’t know yet if it’s going to change a lot of the racing.”