Malukas: Hybrids will separate good IndyCar drivers from bad

Marcus Ericsson getting ready to go out to test the new IndyCar hybrid components at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Marcus Ericsson getting ready to go out to test the new IndyCar hybrid components at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Image by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment.

The final day of October hybrid testing continued as Chevrolet and Honda put more mileage on the IndyCar hybrid components that will be used for the 2024 IndyCar season.

In addition to the 2.2-litre V6 engines, IndyCar drivers will have a hybrid system driven by a spec supercapacitor that will allow drivers to have more horsepower at their disposal.

Friday’s on-track running saw David Malukas and Marcus Ericsson get their first laps not only with the hybrid system but with their new teams for the 2024 season. Malukas will race with McLaren and Ericsson will race with Andretti Global.

Malukas turned nearly 50 laps in the morning session learning about the new hybrid system and its effect on the car.

“I find it very good,” Malukas said of the hybrid system.

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“I’ve been enjoying it. It has more tools for the driver.

“I feel like it can kind of separate the drivers from the best to the worst on when it comes to hybrids.

“It’s another tool, time to regen, deploy, set up passes. I think it’s going to have a bit of a play here at the 500.”

Ericsson did not notice a large handling difference in his car, but what’s more noticeable for the 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner is how much more congested the cockpit is going to be.

The hybrid unit controls are now on the steering wheel in addition to the weight jacker and other minor adjustments that drivers have available to them on the ovals.

“It’s getting busy in the cockpit,” Ericsson said.

“I think that’s the biggest thing. We’re still working on different things with how much regen and deploy. It’s still a process we’re going through.”

Both drivers have had to get used to their new environments and how they operate. In Malukas’s case, he is moving from his native Chicago to the Indianapolis area so he can spend more time at the shop to get further ingrained with his new team.

“They have a good crew,” Malukas said of the McLaren staff.

“Everybody has been super friendly, introducing everything to me, making me get comfortable.

“Specifically, Tony Kanaan [Arrow McLaren Sporting Director]. Tony Kanaan has been showing me the ropes and saying like, ‘Hey, this is how you use this resource, this is what I think you should do,’ just getting me comfortable on getting used to all these spoiled resources that they keep giving me.”

In Ericsson’s case, he’s spent the last four years of his career at Chip Ganassi Racing and was a serious championship contender the last two of those years.

The former Formula 1 driver will be the senior figure with Colton Herta and Kyle Kirkwood as team-mates.

“I feel really welcomed and it feels like there’s a lot of excitement in the building, not only for me coming there, but hopefully I’m a part of that excitement,” Ericsson said.

“Just everything that’s happening in the team, the ambitions, the goals the team has. I think it’s a lot of good things happening there.

“It’s cool for me to join at a time where I feel like there’s a lot of potential there. Over the next few years it’s going to be interesting to see where that sort of takes us.

“It’s going to be really cool to be part of that.”

Alex Palou, Herta, Will Power, Alexander Rossi, Malukas and Ericsson combined to run 1325 laps (3312.5 miles) at the Speedway on Thursday and Friday. No reliability issues were reported.

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