WHAT WILL CHANGE
The gauntlet the FIA has thrown down to F1’s engine makers for 2014 is to reduce the quantity of fuel needed for a Grand Prix by almost 40 percent, yet still maintain the same level of performance and power outputs (i.e. around 750 horsepower) as today. This change to the ground rules is poised to spark a major technological metamorphosis and a whole new challenge for the sport’s engine experts.
The discussions that took place to prepare the new regulations led to the choice of a new engine technical definition.
The countdown to 2014 is already well under way as the engineers turn their attention to the development of what is termed a ’power unit’ that combines a downsized turbocharged engine with two electric motors to recover braking and exhaust heat energy.
Downsized internal combustion engine
Switch from a V8 to a V6 architecture
Cubic capacity reduced by one-third from 2.4 to 1.6 litres
Turbocharging (single-stage compressor), plus engine torque capped at 15,000rpm for a power output of approximately 550 horsepower
New ‘Energy Recovery System’ (ERS): kinetic energy (ERS-K) and exhaust heat energy (ERS-H) is recovered by two electric motor-generator units named MGU-H and MGU-K.
THE NEW RESTRICTIONS SPECIFIED BY THE 2014 FIA REGULATIONS
A double-restriction concerning fuel
The amount of fuel that can be used during races has been reduced : the maximum quantity of fuel that may be carried by the car during a race will be reduced to 140 litres. Energy management will become a major factor of race strategies.
Fuel flow reduced : the maximum fuel flow rate will be reduced to 140 litres/hour, making optimisation of every gram of fuel vital for cars to go as fast as possible on a given quantity of fuel.
A double restriction concerning the flow of electrical energy
The amount of energy that can be recovered during each lap has been reduced
The amount of energy that can be restored has also been reduced
Development costs have been limited and the number of engines each driver can use in the course of the season has been further capped: five per driver in 2014, then four per driver from 2015 (compared to eight per driver at the moment). The technologies and materials employed must be similar to those used for production engines.
Energy efficiency, the new aim in F1
This step from a competition that has traditionally placed the emphasis on power with little consideration for fuel consumption to a new era focused on energy efficiency and reduced fuel consumption (for the same level of performance) is a real revolution for the world of F1.
As a pioneer of engine downsizing as long ago as the 1980s, Renault benefits from an extensive understanding of the turbocharged V6 architecture. Meanwhile, thanks to the electric vehicle programme it instigated in 2009, Renault also enjoys an edge in the field of electric motor technology. These are two indisputable trump cards as it prepares for the switch from normally-aspirated V8s to electrified V6 turbocharged power units.