What do the new engine changes in Formula 1 really mean to the sport?
The change from the 2.4 litre V8 engines, which have been used since 2009, to the 1.6 litre V6 turbo will not only help to bring F1 more into line with new cutting-edge road car technology, but will also boost F1s green credentials.
The new engines are going to mean that less fuel is used, but will still produce the same amount of performance. The plan is to try and increase fuel efficiency by at least 40% and consequently these engines have already been labelled as “Power Trains”.
The engines that were in use up to the end of this season produced roughly 780bhp. The newer engines will produce about 620bhp, but with its electrical energy recovery it should boost the bhp up to at least 780bhp, the same as before. However, certain people on the inside are predicting that the total power could be as high as 840bhp.
The way this is going to be achieved is that the engines will contain a single turbo. The exhaust gases produced by the engine blow into a turbine, causing it to speed up. This turbine is also connected to a second, and this second turbine pulls in cold air, pressurising the intake system of the engine. This whole process increases the power of the engine.
Kers vs. Ers
We have all become familiar with the term Kers, where a motor-generator captures the energy caused by a driver braking and converts it to electrical power. This is then stored in a battery ready to be used by a driver when he accelerates, giving him more energy to use.
With the new engines there will now be two electrical motors rather than the single one. One electric motor will work similar to the current Kers, and the second electrical motor is attached to the turbo. A turbo has something called a waste-gate at the exhaust side, and this releases excess energy if the pressure gets too high.
However, in the new engine, instead of having a waste-gate, the engine will convert the excess energy into electricity by stopping the turbo from over-speeding. This energy will then be used to help charge the battery pack. The added bonus to this system is that because the turbo can maintain its required operating revs, the power delivery should be instant, as the turbo will not need to reach maximum speed to deliver this power boost.
So what does this mean for the drivers?
As soon as a driver pushes down on the accelerator the power is going to be there, ready to be used instantly, replacing the usual throttle lag turbo engine experience. The other difference is that in the past drivers could only use their Kers for 6.7 seconds per lap, as it only generated about 60kw. The new Ers will generate about 120kw’s giving drivers just over 30 seconds per lap of extra power.
What Does This Mean For F1 in 2014?
What are my predictions for the 2014 season? For teams such as Ferrari and Mercedes they will have an advantage as they are the only 2 teams who will be building their own engines. This will allow them to build their engine and chassis side by side whereas all the other teams will have to modify their own chassis to fit the engines they purchase.
McLaren, who decided to completely re-design their car this season, quickly realised their mistake and by the middle of 2013 gave up on the cars performance to concentrate on the new 2014 season. This should have given them a very early head start on the other teams.
There is a real possibility of a lot more engine failures expected for the new season. Even though the new engines are on the whole of it much smaller the cars will now have a much bigger Ers unit than before. In the past teams like Red Bull were able to win races if they had a Kers failure. These new engines are much more reliant on the electrical power for its overall performance.
Will Red Bull’s dominance of the last 2 -3 season finally come to an end with the new engines coming into play? I am sure that other teams such as Ferrari and Mercedes, who are building their own engines, will challenge Red Bull much better in 2014. However, you do not become 4 times world champion without being able to adapt to new changes, and I for one still think Sebastian Vettel will be a force to reckon with in 2014.
My only predictions for the F1 2014 season are because of all the new changes to engines, nose cones, and rear wing designs, expect the unexpected because anything could happen