Laguna Seca, last race before the hybrid

It's a bit like the end of an era taking place this weekend at Laguna Seca. Indeed, for the last time, thermal engines, without electrical addition, will be placed inside the 27 single-seaters at the start.

Published on 20/06/2024 à 16:31

Michael Duforest

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Laguna Seca, last race before the hybrid

© Penske Entertainment: James Black

While the 6L twin-turbo V2,2s from Honda and Chevrolet will not be replaced starting with the Mid-Ohio race in early July, they will still see a significant addition. A hybrid system, developed jointly by the two manufacturers, will indeed power the Dallaras entered in the championship. The current engine regulations came into force in 2012 (Honda and Chevrolet were then accompanied by Lotus, which only stayed for one season), with a modification in 2014, making two-turbo systems compulsory.

It is therefore on the legendary Laguna Seca route that this era ofIndyCar will come to an end, on a track that the championship has visited again since 2019 (with the exception of a year's break in 2020 due to the pandemic). Built in 1957, the Monterey track in California hosted CART then Champ Car from 1983 to 2004, before making its return 15 years later.

Tire wear, essential at Laguna Seca

The main challenge of the circuit lies in tire management. For many years, the very abrasive asphalt of the circuit made it difficult to maintain your tires over a long stint. A problem solved by the laying of an entirely new asphalt before the 2023 event... asphalt which proved extremely slippery, offering little grip and transforming the event into something closer to a demolition derby than of a usual IndyCar race! It remains to be seen whether this year's race will experience the same difficulties. L'IMSA took place at Laguna Seca in mid-May, with new lap records on the line, suggesting that with a year of "additional maturity", the track should offer a lot of grip to the various drivers.

Usually held in September, this year's event will therefore take place in June, a change which should have very little impact on the conditions. Indeed, this area of ​​California benefits from a temperate climate all year round, and there will only be a few degrees difference between the 2023 race and that of 2024.

A new victory for Herta?

Regional of the stage, Colton Herta is still one of the favorites, on a track where he won twice consecutively, in 2019 and 2021, as his father Bryan did in 1998 and 1999. Quick year last, he was relegated to 15 laps after contact on the track. Still very fast, Herta must make it happen in 2024, after several difficult races at the Indy 500, Detroit and Road America.

Romain Grosjean finished on the podium at Laguna Seca in 2021 following a race full of attack and sometimes daring overtaking. The Juncos Hollinger Racing single-seaters have also been fast in recent seasons in California, so many reasons to hope for a good result for the Frenchman, now the sole representative of the French camp, following the dismissal of Theo Pourchaire at Arrow McLaren.

Laguna Seca also marks the end of the first half of the IndyCar season. With only 11 points separating Will Power, Alex Palou and Scott Dixon, this eighth round of the season will obviously not be decisive, but each lost point will be difficult to recover subsequently, especially with the unknown that represents the arrival of the hybrid engine, and the six oval races that are coming, out of the last nine of the year…

Monterey Grand Prix – Program

Friday June 21
Free Practice 1: 23:00 a.m. – 00:15 a.m.

Saturday June 22
Free Practice 2: 19:00 a.m. – 20:00 a.m.
Qualifications: 23:15 p.m. – 00:45 p.m.

Sunday, June 23
Warm-Up: 21:00 p.m. – 21:30 p.m.

Monday June 24
Race: 00:15 a.m.

READ ALSO : Laguna Seca, land of return for David Malukas

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