Scott Dixon, Ganassi, IndyCar, Indianapolis 500, 2020

Honda and Chevrolet agree “long term” commitments to IndyCar

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IndyCar says current engine suppliers Honda and Chevrolet have agreed a “long-term” commitment to the sport under which they will produce new hybrid engines for the 2023 season.

The American single-seater championship has delayed the introduction of new 2.4-litre petrol-electric hybrids from 2022 to 2023 due to the pandemic. The new engines will replace the 2.2-litre units used since 2012, and raise power levels from 700bhp to around 900bhp.

Honda announced last week it intends to ends its Formula 1 programme at the end of next season in order to focus on the electrification of its road car range.

“Honda welcomes this step to the future by IndyCar, action that mirrors Honda’s efforts to develop and manufacture high-performance, electrified products that will meet industry challenges and delight our customers,” said Honda Performance Development president Ted Klaus.

“At Honda, we race to develop our people, to innovate technologies and to engage fans. We are proud of our uninterrupted, 27-year leadership in IndyCar, and look forward to delivering a next-generation Honda 2.4-litre hybrid power unit with more than 900 horsepower.”

RLL driver Takuma Sato won the Indianapolis 500 in August at the wheel of a Honda-powered car, and fellow Honda user Scott Dixon currently leads the championship for Ganassi.

Chevrolet and Honda are the only engine suppliers to have participated in IndyCar since 2013. Mark Reuss, president of Chevrolet owners General Motors, said IndyCar is the “perfect showcase for our engine technology, in the only open-wheel racing series in America, a high-tech, growing series that Roger Penske and his team are absolutely taking to the next level.”

IndyCar said opportunities remain for a third manufacturer to join the championship. Ferrari has said they are considering a move into the series.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 40 comments on “Honda and Chevrolet agree “long term” commitments to IndyCar”

    1. I bet if Red Bull were leading the championship, Honda would stay put in F1.

      Whatever the excuse is, to me, it screams
      ‘Taking their ball and running home ‘cos they are not winning’

      1. To me it screams that F1 is the problem. Unjustifiably expensive to compete in the current formula with the money Mercedes are throwing at it. Hope the budget cap works.

        1. JJ, in the case of the USA, you do have to bear in mind that you are talking about the North American section of Honda – that division of Honda has considerable freedom to act differently to the rest of the company, and is almost a semi-independent company these days.

          It has set up its own motorsport division, Honda Performance Development, that only focusses on North American motorsport and, as far as I am aware, has no overlap with the rest of Honda’s motorsport activities. It’s why you do have to be a bit careful when talking about IndyCar and Honda’s USA division – HPD doesn’t answer to the main board in Japan, but to the separate board of directors Honda has in California, and the priorities of the USA division don’t reflect that of the rest of the company.

          1. The final word comes from Japan anyway…

            1. Bio, Ted Klaus has indicated that Honda Performance Development only answers to the board of Honda’s North American division, and they have the final say on the matter – not the board of directors in Japan.

              Indeed, the current CEO of Honda’s USA division has previously mentioned that the buck stops with him when it comes to approving motorsport activities in the USA, and he effectively acts independently of Honda’s other motorsport activities because there is no overlap between the two divisions.

            2. Ted Klaus can say whatever he wants. You don’t know japanese people enough if you think something that bears their name is not under their control. Honda North America is still a division of the japanese company , albeit independent, but the final word comes from the japanese hq.

            3. HPD has considerable leeway but HQ in Japan still has final say. If HPD had total independence Alonso would have been in an Andretti car at Indy this year. According to reports, HPD gave Andretti assurances it would be fine but Tokyo vetoed it.

              Headquarters likely isn’t too bothered in this case because the cost of building engines in IndyCar is a small fraction of the cost to do so in F1.

        2. “Unjustifiably expensive” Fully agree.

      2. Nope. Honda views all it’s sporting commitments with one eye on the global financial climate. Last time they pulled out, it was the 2008 recession. This time it’s financial indirectly caused by COVID-19. Blame the markets and their change in direction.

        Although for a supposed engineering company, a press release focussing on technologies that still don’t work either efficiently or cost effectively (aka hydrogen) is an unfortunate choice.

        1. Yes, although I also doubt they would pull out if they were leading.

          Probably they saw Mercedes was more dominant than ever, and with upcoming development freezes and caps realized they were never going to catch them, so what’s the point.

        2. Anon, not quite true. It was Honda Japan that wouldn’t allow Alonso to run for Andretti a second time at the Indy 500. HPD can do almost what they want, but not totally. Honda is obviously based in Japan, and it is the parent company of HPD.

      3. The entire IndyCar program probably costs Honda less than the manufacturing costs of the engine supply for a single F1 car for the season let alone R&D expenditure.

        1. I wonder if there was any discussion with RBR about them, y’know, paying for their engine supply?

    2. This tells me environmental reason is BS.. atleast be honest and say, its money and we’re out..

      1. It was a strange call. At least when their goal year was 2050. So being in F1 for few more years would not have hurt them.

      2. I agree, though it should be noted that F1 program is under Honda Japan and the IndyCar program is under Honda USA.

        Though the most telling for me that they are nor considering entering Formula E

    3. After a pretty brutal season due to tha-Rona (IndyCar gets very little money from TV deals unlike NASCAR and depends a lot on ticket purchases.) it is very important that they could get such long term supply deals from Honda and Chevrolet.

      In addition, new series owner Roger Penske stated that his first priority was securing the involvement of the existing engine manufacturers, following that, to sign on additional engine manufacturers for the series.

    4. I can infer Honda was promised something when they were back. Developing an engine because of the fun of it or the marketing value is not compatible with the business world of today. They never had the upper hand thanks to Ferrari and the promise of success was gone with Bernie. Red Bull deal was just a “let’s wait and see” and COVID just killed it.

      F1 is a massive money pit and a Honda leaving is a giant slap in the face of Liberty Media and FIA because they have not made a presence in the US to justify the spend. Under a Covid perspective it means that the automakers expect US to recover first and stronger in absolute terms. F1 is a marginal thing to watch in the US so, regardless of their own narrative, F1 lost value allowing such disparity in price money, assisting Ferrari and grandfathering Mercedes and Red Bull.

      1. I would love to see Ferrari joining Indycar.

        1. I’m pretty sure they would have announced by now to join if it weren’t for their terrible performance in F1 this year. Hard to imagine the moaning they would have heard if they said we’re joining IndyCar, with the current debacle that’s going on.

    5. Following Honda’s announcement there has been a lot of blame thrown at the Covid crisis, but let’s all remember that this was clearly indicated before Covid, and although everyone globally is having to manage their finances more closely now, the lack of a long term commitment to Red Bull and Alpha Tauri was evidence enough that Honda were planning their exit.

      The renewed commitment to IndyCar where they’ll also be building and running hybrid engines is another blow for F1 and really demonstrates how poor the current model is. I’m firmly in the group of fans who like the complexity of the current power units, but even as a Mercedes fan it’s getting tiring watching one team dominate all aspects of the sport and I’d gladly take simplified power unit regulations with more road relevance in order to level the playing field and attract other engine manufacturers. After all, Mercedes and Renault are only a group board meeting away from leaving F1 themselves during this or the next financial crisis.

    6. Goes to show just how weak the environmental reasoning was. That Honda indycar engine is (surprisingly) significantly better than the Chevrolet, we saw at the Indy 500 just how good their engine is… while in F1 verstappen had a race ending engine fault as recent as mugello.

    7. There’s KERS vendor in Indy so the cost is not comparable with F1. Besides if everything goes wrong, Honda would still the second best engine there.

    8. F1 is the problem – It’s a toxic worthless environment. Honda couldn’t leave quick enough!

    9. This shows me the bull in the Honda press release about leaving F1 was just marketing spin to align it with the current mania about ‘carbon neutral’ as if such a thing were possible over all.

      They see Indycar as a better bet taking the engine knowledge they have learnt from hybrid engines in F1 to benefit the other series.

    10. Honda Performance Division (USA) has hardly anything to do with Honda Japan.

      These decisions have nothing to do with each other.

    11. So what Honda said about leaving F1, and now signing on for Indy, doesn’t add up.

    12. F1s inexorable descent into irrelevance continues…A serious rethink of the 2026 and beyond power train is needed.

      Time for a poll. Would you prefer
      a) continue with the current units (or minor tweak thereof)
      b) dyno tested & power limited drivetrains but anything goes (with safety in mind)
      c) electric drive with a standardised ICE charging it
      d) full electric, with fast recharge or swappable batteries to give sufficient range/performance

      1. C,D need to be scrubbed. F1 does not need to be electric. Formula E can just run along side its petrol version. A race series does not (IMO) need to have relevance. It can be greener and less wasteful without the need for electric….which still digs up the earth and is still has no less travel/shipping than oil.

        A or B is just fine by me with B getting my vote, but is never going to happen.

      2. @jodrell D), but not until recharge/swap is not needed.
        @invisiblekid Formula E is very close to a spec series (spec engine, spec chassis, but some freedom around software systems), not really comparable to F1.

        1. Oh I’m not saying Formula E is fine as it is, imo it needs a lot of work.

          But no way do I want to see an electric F1 as a replacement to what we have now.

      3. D is not possible before 2039 due to Formula E retaining the exclusive rights to electric series.

        https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/137961/f1-needs-fe-permission-to-go-fully-electric–agag

        I would choose A, I rather like hybrids.

    13. I don’t know who Honda are fooling by exiting F1 to concentrate on “future technologies”.

    14. As a side thought. I read elsewhere that RB leaving the sport is on the table of options and that Renault has voices its opposition to supply motors to RB. Possible scenarios: Max would be in the market looking for a car. Vettel smiling Checo Perez career in F1 is done. Too many drivers. F1 will become an European thing again to get back audience, money. Renault position is fragile and FIA will hand some victories to Alonso and cut the wings of Hamilton with or without Schumi records.

    15. I forget to say that Ferrari will continue irrelevant

    16. I guess what Honda meant was to reduce their cash footprint. It is easy to confuse cash with carbon sometimes.

    17. It’s all Ferraris fault if you think about it. Pushing Mercedes to find every last drop of performance they could, Honda have basically just given up closing the gap

      They can talk about F2… Sorry F1 not fitting their goals all they like, but them sticking in Indy tells the real story. It’s just too expensive to be an also ran

    18. So Honda sees its future in Indycar racing, not F1. That ought to worry F1’s big wigs.

    19. Mark in Florida
      5th October 2020, 2:02

      Honda jumped in late and left early. The rules and circumstances made it impossible to catch up. Realistically Honda would reach parity just as the engine formula changed. Where’s the financial incentives in that? Winning is its own incentive in Indy. They have the superior engine at the big ovals and parity on the road courses with Chevy. With Sato winning the 500 again that’s great press for Honda. They aren’t getting anything like that in F1 it’s just been too difficult for them to catch up and still have reliability. With Indy Car raising the motor outputs closer to 950 hp. and using some electrification in the process it’s ticking all the right boxes for Hondas advertising. F1 is losing the market value formula with these white elephant engines. This should be about racing performance not how carbon neutral you can be. You want to be carbon neutral? Plant trees and solar farms with F1 logos on them. Sorry for the side track but F1 has been side tracked worrying about social issues and carbon neutrality and such instead of this unsustainable engine formula that’s killing competition and running people out of this mess. Indy Cars future is looking brighter and brighter and they’re doing it a much smaller budget and better competition.

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