Palou: Honda “may be a bit behind” Chevy in IndyCar fight
Although Palou’s runner-up finish at Barber Motorsports Park in the fourth round of the season elevated him to the championship lead, Chevrolet remains unbeaten thanks to three wins for Penske and one for Arrow McLaren SP.
That said, Andretti Autosport-Honda appeared to have the fastest cars in Long Beach and – arguably – Barber Motorsports Park, but were let down by various human errors in the cockpit and when deciding strategy.
Asked how close he feels Honda is to Chevrolet in terms of performance, Palou responded: “It’s hard to say. I wish I could really know and get the data to compare.
“They [Chevrolet] have been really strong, that’s for sure, stronger than last year. We can see on the sector times where we’re losing. But yeah, unfortunately it is how it is now.”
Palou said that he had no misgivings over the HPD unit’s potential for the Indianapolis 500 – “We were really good at the Speedway test” – but described Chevrolet as “really strong”.
He went on, “We were really strong at the beginning last year, I think, all the Hondas. Now maybe we’re a little bit behind. We don’t know.
“We still can fight with them. We still can get to the same lap as them on [fuel] mileage or even more – like I was able to get two more than Pato [O’Ward, Barber winner]… I think we’re not too far. Maybe we’re a bit behind.”
O’Ward himself was glowing in his praise of Chevrolet, which among its changes for 2022, has allowed more engine map variations at each track.
“I think they’ve done a great job,” he said. “They have really brought it to us this year. I think it’s great that they’ve been so open to our suggestions and to all the Chevy teams’ suggestions to making us go faster, to helping us in every way they can.”
Arrow McLaren SP team president Taylor Kiel echoed his driver’s sentiments when asked to compare the two units.
“I don’t know where Honda is at,” he said. “All I know is that Chevy has put a tremendous amount of work into their package in the off-season. I can sit here and say they’ve given us everything that we’ve asked for. They’ve worked relentlessly to close any perceived gaps that they thought they had.
“We certainly as a team have felt a huge shift in performance from year to year. I think we did a lot in the background as a team to improve car performance. Chevy has done a fantastic job as well.
“At this stage in the engine game, as far advanced as we are, for them to find the gains they have is remarkable. Kudos to everyone at Chevy, Pratt & Miller, Ilmor, for all the work they’ve done.”