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IndyCar reveals host of 2024 changes with practices and restarts, lighter parts, safety, hybrid details

A week before its cars hit the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, to begin the season, the NTT IndyCar Series revealed several new competition wrinkles for 2024.

The changes will begin March 8 when first practice session for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete will be split into two groups for alternating 10-minute segments after all cars will turn laps in the first 20 minutes. As in qualifying, the practice clock will stop for the first red flag.

Though its hybrid engine remains on schedule for a debut after the 108th Indianapolis 500 for the second half of the season, the cars will have many tweaks starting at St. Pete to prepare for the new power unit. Track records are expected to be threatened by the addition of several lighter chassis components that include:

--A 3D-printed titanium aeroscreen top frame that will shave seven pounds off the cockpit safety feature. Since its addition four years ago, drivers have noted the heavier aeroscreen adversely has affected handling.

--A magnesium gearbox casing and bellhousing for the hybrid assist unit.

--Starting in May on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, an updated PPG-ballistic aeroscreen that will be lighter with new vents to increase driver cooling (with a top front duct made of 3D-printed rubber that directs air to the chest while reducing the likelihood of hand injuries).

IndyCar: Indianapolis 500 Winner
IndyCar: Indianapolis 500 Winner

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IndyCar also announced multiple safety enhancements:

--New LED lighting on rear wing plates on road and street courses for better visibility in the rain.

--Redesigned brake rotors to improve cooling.

--A stronger front wheel bearing retaining nut to match the rear wheel retaining nut that was introduced last year after a left-rear tire flew over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway grandstands during an Indy 500 crash.

--Stronger rear retaining ring and new rear uprights. The wheel tethers will be mounted to the stronger uprights rather than caliper studs.

In officiating races, IndyCar announced a new restart line in the last corner that will prohibit drivers from passing while remaining single file. The light panels around each track will be illuminated green to supplement the flags waved at the start-finish line.

IndyCar will announce further competition updates for the Indy 500 at a later date.

After completing 21,108 miles in hybrid testing, IndyCar said the new engine still will feature the “push to pass” option on road and street circuits. Teams also will have the hybrid’s motor generator unit (MGU) and energy storage system (ESS) for storing and employing energy for extra horsepower.

The combination of push to pass, MGU and ESS will provide more than 100 horsepower.