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IndyCar Mid-Ohio

IndyCar president Frye praises “good first weekend” for hybrid

Scott Dixon’s issue the only cloud on race weekend debut of the new hybrid system at Mid-Ohio

Marcus Ericsson, Andretti Global Honda, Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Christian Rasmussen, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, Linus Lundqvist, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Marcus Ericsson, Andretti Global Honda, heads a pack of IndyCars at Mid-Ohio

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

This weekend’s round at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course marked the race debut of the electrical hybrid system that featured some growing pains, but also left IndyCar president Jay Frye applauding the end result.

The series introduced a first-of-its-kind hybrid system, which was part of a collaborative effort between Chevrolet and Honda that has the current 2.2-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 internal combustion engine is paired with a low voltage (48V) Motor Generator Unit (MGU) and an up-to-320 kilojoules-per-lap supercapacitor Energy Storage System (ESS).

The power output in combination with IndyCar’s regularly-equipped push-to-pass boost adds a combined 120 horsepower to bring the outright total available at a driver’s disposal over 800 horsepower.

IndyCar Hybrid unit

IndyCar Hybrid unit

Photo by: Honda

There were early issues with the self-start, one of the major changes that allows a driver to hit a sequence of buttons to start or restart their stalled vehicle as part of an effort to prevent the race being interrupted by a yellow flag.

But the problems that raised their head on Friday, which saw the software disabled on Saturday, was reactivated on Sunday and saw the functionality successful on multiple occasions.

One major issue occurred before the start of the race when Scott Dixon’s No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda stopped during the pace laps in Turn 5, where he was then put behind the wall.

The suspected issue was that the ESS began discharging, but IndyCar openly shared they are still investigating the incident. Dixon was able to return, albeit 22 laps down and ultimately logged 40 laps before retiring with what was listed as a mechanical.

Dixon told NBC: “Something started discharging the capacitors immediately at an excessive rate, some kind of failure there with the power cell of the hybrid.”

The incident for Dixon put a dent in his quest for a seventh championship; he came into the weekend second in the standings and just 32 points behind leader and team-mate Alex Palou, but now dropped to fourth at 71 points back.

But Dixon proved to be the outlier on a day that featured 80 laps around the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course.

“It was a magnificent effort by many, many people,” Frye told Motorsport.com. “Obviously, big kudos to Chevrolet and Honda for jumping in about 18 months ago.

“To have 27 cars running at the end is a huge accomplishment. When the drivers used it throughout the course of the weekend, it was amazing. We had the No. 6 car (of Arrow McLaren rookie Nolan Siegel) started and backed up and drove off (using the hybrid self-start during warm-up), that was amazing.

“The really cool thing about this is there is still a whole lot of potential that we’re not even tapped into yet, but a really, really good first weekend.”

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

Frye also shared the nerves that built up quickly after Dixon’s problems.

“Yeah, for sure, because you don’t know,” Frye said. “The thing has been really flawless this weekend, we got the thing with the start function sorted out, and obviously it worked, which was great.

“Our race teams are amazing… We ran 31,000 miles or so in testing with this system, so the teams have had a huge input in this thing, just like they always do and it’s a big paddock-wide effort.

“But yes, once something like that happens right off the bat, you don’t know what happened, so you’re kind of on pins and needles the rest of the event, but obviously they got it sorted out and they got back out.”

Frye went on to stress that this was Day 1 of a new era for North America’s premier open-wheel championship.

“I think as we go on, everything will get better and better and better,” he said. “It’s a process.

“So today was just a really good check the box on the first weekend and I’m just proud of everybody’s efforts and look forward to the future.”

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