|Mercedes Benz 1.6L Turbo charged V6 – 2014 F1 engine|
As the world looks towards conserving our stock of fossil fuels, and in the middle of car companies moving towards smaller engines to improve fuel efficiency, the pinnacle of motor sport, Formula 1 is also looking to do its bit and seem more green, if that is even possible in a sport where all stake holders and followers are called “petrol-heads”.
The current generation of Formula 1 engines are set to be outlawed by the end of this year and 2013 is that last year that we will see the V8’s in cars. The sport is moving towards smaller capacity, more fuel efficient engines that have more real world usability. The emphasis is going to move towards fuel efficiency and energy conversion. This could see the return of the manufacturers that left the sport like Honda, Toyota and BMW, and it could entice new manufacturers to get into the fray like the Audi VW family. The marketing value of racing engines that can be used in their road cars is immense, obviously the engines in the F1 cars will be at higher levels of tuning, but they will basically be similar engines.
The 2.4L V8 naturally aspirated engines are to be replaced with the smaller 1.6L V6 turbo charged engines which will be about 40% more fuel efficient than the outgoing engines. The sport is moving on from “engines” into an era of “power units”. The KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) will be replaced by the ERS (Energy Recovery System) which harnesses kinetic as well as heat energy and will produce 161 BHP over 33.3 seconds as against 80 BHP over 6.7 seconds of the current units.
|1300 BHP Lotus 98T – Ayrton Senna (Brands Hatch)|
Turbo engines are not new in Formula One and the time between 1977-1988 saw teams use super chargers and turbo chargers to deliver 900 BHP in race trim to 1500 BHP in qualifying trim. The obvious danger from these, over the top, high performance engines saw them being banned from 1989 and we were left with the punier 3.5L V12 naturally aspirated engines that produced 800 – 900 BHP. From then on we have seen engine capacities reduce all the way down to the current 2.4L V8 engines which produce about 750 BHP. The new 1.6L V6 turbos should produce about the same 750 BHP coupled with the ERS system in qualifying trim, but come race day this number could drop to 550 or 600 BHP.
The numbers drop for race day as the teams have to extract maximum performance from an allocated 100 kg of fuel (140 litres). Teams currently use about 160 kg of fuel (225 litres) for a race. The fuel limit along with a clamp on fuel flow rate (100 kg per hour) means more emphasis on strategy and teams have to ensure they do not run out of fuel before the end of the race. This will also see the introduction of new 8 speed gearboxes instead of the current 7 speeds to improve fuel efficiency.
Mercedes Benz High Performance Managing Director, Adam Cowell put to rest fears about the loss of charm of Formula One due to the introduction of these smaller engines with turbo chargers which will take away the wall of sound that almost tears your ear drums away. “It is a little bit lower in terms of decibels becuase of the turgbocharger, but it’s a sweet sound. It put a big smile on my face. I think the sound is going to be pleasant. The volume is a little bit lower but I don’t think are going to be any problems with the direction we are going in.”,he said.
Cowell added, “There will be a new quality to the racing. It will edge towards a thinking driver’s formula to the get the most from the car and the furl energy. The engines will deliver more torque, especially on corner exits. Cars with more power than grip coming out of the corners. That’s something we all enjoy.”
Also, reportedly the crackle and pop of the engine while downshifting remains. Amen!