Dixon leads calls for next-gen IndyCar to lose weight
In the ongoing discussion over IndyCar’s 2023 engine regulations, which will see engine capacity increase from 2.2-liters to 2.4 with hybrid units added on, Dixon, Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal have asked the series to reduce the weight of the cars overall.
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“I would say IndyCar right now is more of a junior category car,” said Dixon who has accrued 51 wins over his 21-year career at the top of U.S. open-wheel racing and has won all six of his titles with Chip Ganassi Racing. “It’s not particularly fast, it’s not particularly nimble, it’s very heavy, there’s not a whole lot of grip, and some of the circuits that we go to are very low-grip, as well…
“I think the reason for some of the weight gains have been a huge safety situation such as the aeroscreen and things like that, which are no-brainers. I think you’re seeing a lot of formulas kind of going down that road at the moment just in the way that the technology is shifting. We’re maybe not as quick on chassis development or upgrading – we’ve had the same car since 2012.”
Dixon sounded hopeful that next year’s cars new engine formula would push the power-to-weight ratio in the right direction, but said the cars still needed to shed the pounds to help reduce the mass and momentum when the cars strike walls.
“The big focus right now is the introduction of the hybrid system, new engines from the manufacturers, and those are big shifts. We’ll see introduction of possibly an extra 200 horsepower [over several seasons]. That will definitely make the car wildly different to drive…
“It is constantly evolving. The weight thing is probably something that’s at the forefront because the cars are getting heavy, and I think that becomes a safety issue at some point just because the speeds are staying pretty similar.”
Team Penske’s Power echoed these sentiments, saying: “The car is too heavy. I think once they add that hybrid thing, it’s too much. It already was with the [aero]screen. It’s become less and less nimble. They’ve got to find a way to lose some weight out of the car.”
His teammate Newgarden repeated in essence what he told Motorsport.com last October, after running a test session at Barber in which the cars were simulated in 2023 form, with an extra 120lbs of weight.
“The details of the new engine coming onboard, what are the components that come with that? When is there a new car that comes online with it, as well?… I think it’s important that we keep the weight relatively low, low for an IndyCar. In this series I think it’s good for multiple reasons. It’s good for performance, it’s good for safety.”
Rahal was asked by Motorsport.com about his natural disadvantage of being one of the taller heavier drivers, and while he fully agreed with the point, he played it down, saying, “It’s not something I think about at a race weekend. We just do what we do.” But he, too, swiftly moved onto the topic of the next-gen IndyCar needing to be much lighter.
“In the next IndyCar the focus must be – must be – to build the car right in the first place,” he said before explaining, “We built this chassis in 2012. Wasn’t quite there. We had to add intrusion panels. We had to add stiffeners…The weight of the cars is significantly higher than when I started my career. Now you’re adding in the hybrid engine, everything else, [and] obviously the aeroscreen [added for the 2020 season].
“It’s not a knock-on where we’re at, but it is a key focus going forward to the next generation of car. We need to drop the actual weight down significantly… That obviously is going to be affecting the braking with the new speeds, bigger motors, it’s going to affect the tires significantly and everything else.
“It’s just important, I think, that we get the car built right the first time around. I have all the faith in the world in Dallara. They’ve always kept me safe, done a great job. I think it’s really important.”
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