Honda’s 2018 IndyCar manufacturer title success was made all the sweeter by the company’s struggles during the aero war era, said HPD president Art St. Cyr.
Until this year, Chevrolet had won every manufacturers’ title since its return to the series in 2012, and was especially dominant during the era of manufacturer aero kits between 2015 and 2017.
“That whole era was a challenge for us,” said St. Cyr (pictured congratulating Takuma Sato after his win at Portland). “I’m really proud of how well we’ve responded. For all the folks at Honda Performance Development, we really put our heads down, no matter what challenge gets put in front of us.
“Some companies might say to forget it. We looked at it differently. What do we have to do? We kept clawing our way, clawing our way back. We won 10 of the 16 races this year. Our plan is to win this one [at Sonoma], as well. We want to keep going and win every race that we’re at, no matter what obstacle gets put in front of us.
“It’s a real testament to the perseverance of the folks at Honda Performance Development, our teams, our drivers, and everybody really putting our heads down, reflecting on what went wrong, how to make it better, get to the point we’re at right now.”
IndyCar’s two manufacturers have made an informal agreement to tone down the intensity of their development war ahead of the introduction of a new engine formula in 2021, but St. Cyr said that there is still performance to be extracted from the current unit.
“The gains that we’re looking for moving forward… it’s about how you operate the engine, utilize the engine, how you control the abuse we put on the engine. There’s a lot of work going into operational activities,” he said.
“A race engine, you’re always running it on the verge of explosion. The key is to get right to that line, but not actually go over that line. How do you manage being right at that line? That’s really where our focus is going to be in this off-season. That started right after the Indy 500 this year, and we’re going to continue to work till the first race of next season.”