Formula 1 racing focus turns to energy management

Formula 1 racing focus turns to energy management
Credit: Renault

(Phys.org) —Videos and preview briefs are surfacing on news sites about what we can expect in this year's Formula 1 World Championship. The consistent message is technical change, the use of hybrid technology and a focus on efficiency. Call it hybrid tech, or any fitting term to describe the balance that will be seen in 2014 between output and efficiency in the machines. Eyes are on the engines. As the BBC stated, the sport goes further than ever before to embrace green technology and the major turn rests in the 1.6-liter V6 turbo engines, which is a departure from the 2.4-liter V8 engines.

Rob White, Deputy Managing Director (technical), Renault, said that the word "engine" just won't fully describe a 2014 car's propulsive power. "It is more relevant to refer to the complete system as a 'Power Unit.'''

F1 cars will be powered by the turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 internal combustion engine. They replace the 2.4-litre V8s, in use since 2006. "V6" involves an with an arrangement of two banks of three cylinders in a V configuration over a crankshaft.
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Then there are the limits: Engines must consume fuel at no more than 100kg per hour. That's down from about 150kg teams used last year.

The F1 talk of technical shake-ups also rests in ERS, which stands for energy recovery system. These cutting-edge systems represent a change from the previous KERS, or Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems. The latter was introduced to the sport in 2009; it worked by harnessing waste energy created under braking and transforming it into electrical energy. ERS, said the BBC, is made up of the KERS system and a second electric motor fitted to the turbo. "As for the second , that will harness energy from the turbo that would otherwise be wasted as heat."

Quoted in a Wired report on F1 highlights for 2014, Naoki Tokunaga, Renault F1′s technical director for Power Units, said, "In essence, engine manufacturers used to compete on reaching record levels of power, This year is another matter. Now they are to compete, he said, "in the intelligence of energy management."

What does this 2014 focus mean for the Formula 1 drivers? They are also bracing themselves for the new type of car behavior. This year, said AUTOSPORT, demands on fuel economy mean that the drivers will need to adjust. "This different way of driving will need practice - to learn how best to be fast but not to use up too much fuel." said James Allison, Ferrari technical director.

According to the BBC, "Formula 1 is introducing arguably the biggest set of rule changes in its history this season." Renault would not disagree. According to Renault, "In 2014 Formula 1 will enter a new era. After three years of planning and development, the most significant technical change to hit the sport in more than two decades is introduced. Engine regulations form the major part of the coming revolution, with the introduction of a new generation of Power Units that combine a 1.6 liter V6 turbocharged engine with energy recovery systems that will dramatically increase efficiency by harvesting energy dissipated as heat in the exhaust or brakes."


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Jan 25, 2014
Jay Leno for lead presenter: Top Gear: America.

Write your Congresscritter. Sent Clarkson a bottle of War Gin.

America needs a STIG.

Jan 25, 2014
I can agree with that, America needs a STIG!

Jan 25, 2014
It will be interesting to see how much Le Mans style WEC cars make up ground on F1. WEC is allowing regen and hybrids on front and back while F1 does only rear wheels. And F1 weight is going up, while LMP1 is going to come down.

Jan 25, 2014
Lame. Who wants to see slower race cars?

Jan 26, 2014
Lame. Who wants to see slower race cars?

I take it you only watch quarter mile sprints and the like?
Yeah...like that takes so much driver skill, race intelligence, strategy, ...

People watch different races types for different reasons. If you think F1 is only about 'going as fast as possible' then you don't understand the sport.

I'm pretty excited for the Formula E that will start this year. That should really push the technical envelope.

Jan 26, 2014
" "This different way of driving will need practice - to learn how best to be fast but not to use up too much fuel." said James Allison, Ferrari technical director."

Small high HP engines are a lot more expensive to build than large engines of the same HP. That is why they went to the 2.4 L to begin with. To turn F1 into a "fuel economy" run is just plain stupid. They should allow any sort of energy recovery device and if it gives an advantage teams will use it, the technical envelope will be "pushed" and all will benefit.

F1 does not need to regulate how much fuel an engine burns or how a driver chooses to use that fuel. Gas tank sizes are regulated and every pit stop carries a huge time penalty.


Jan 26, 2014
F1 is a wonderful giant chess match at 180 miles per hour. I love it. It integrates so many skills, disciplines and technologies -- all at bleeding edge levels. Then add the highly charged human emotional element to the mix (including the behind the scenes escapades) and it becomes today's opera, writ large. This year should be fantastic. I sincerely hope the sport continues to let each team develop their own real manufacturer-bespoke race cars from scratch, rather than going the lame everybody-gets-the-same-car approach of American Indycar "racing" (I use the word racing loosely here).

Jan 26, 2014
Mr1, I appreciate the appeal of "unlimited" racing, but there are many reasonable considerations that combine to make regulating the game the best course of action. Not the least of which is relevance to the real world outside the racing venue. Motor sports have many naysayers who harp on the pollution and waste. It benefits the sport in the long run to promote a measure of efficiency. Bringing some standardization to the power units helps get the technology on the road course sooner, and allows all the teams a chance to play. And making the efficiency requirements a bit tough also sends a good message. (It may seem like I'm contradicting my earlier post, but I'm not. F1 is doing it right; Indy car threw out the baby with the bath water, IMO.)

Jan 26, 2014
Any racing sport is based on energy efficiency management. The winners are always the ones who could make the best of all the different variables. The beauty of F1 is to regularly change the rules and let the teams develop their own solutions. This brings constant challenges to drivers and engineers.

Jan 26, 2014
I'm pretty excited for the Formula E that will start this year. That should really push the technical envelope.


I agree, but I am not sure that it will bring the adrenaline charged ambience necessary to make it economically viable.

Jan 26, 2014
I don't know...they're planning mostly city circuits. That should ensure spectator crowds.
I hope they don't skimp on the sound engineering. It'd be fun if they had some cars using pod-racer like sound effects or turbines or whatnot.

Jan 26, 2014
"Mr1, I appreciate the appeal of "unlimited" racing, but there are many reasonable considerations that combine to make regulating the game the best course of action. Not the least of which is relevance to the real world outside the racing venue."

Mayday that is a valid point. F1 is supported by and made possible by corporations ( auto companies, tire companies, etc. ) that must market a product that relates to the future needs of the general population.

Thus, I must change my viewpoint about racing. It is not about producing the best lap times around a particular track, it is about producing the most marketable lap times around a particular track.

Jan 26, 2014
MR166, your thinking scheme is still a little bit biased. F1 technology is not driven by the automobile industry. Certainly many innovations that appear in everybody's car come from F1, but they are mainly by-products. Very few people can afford genuine F1 technology. If you are one of the lucky few, go ahead and get a McLaren P1.

I would not say that F1 cars would be competitive on an oval, but it certainly would put to shame any other racing formula on a decent F1 track.

Jan 26, 2014
antialias_physorg, the choice to go for city circuits is probably for cost mitigation. Let's hope Formula E gets the media attention necessary to get the hype going. If so, it will find its crowd and slowly get the economic momentum needed for innovation.

Jan 26, 2014
TechnoCreed, I think F1 could put everyone to shame on oval tracks as well. They would just trim the car out in a super low downforce configuration. I believe they've had some runs at around 248mph when just trying that for fun. Combine that with their downforce and they could go full-out at most ovals on the planet.

Jan 26, 2014
MR166, Yes, the big boys definitely have some sway on the sport, but I they surprise me sometimes. For example, going to the V6 turbos this year over the objections of Ferrari and Bernie! Ferrari does not currently even ship a car with a V6 so I was surprised and pleased they didn't use their "special veto power" to stop it.

As for Formula E...I am VERY excited for it. I think it will have some rough years to get going, but the technology will improve and the city circuits were very smart for generating crowds and interests. As for the noise....I think they already sound like "pod racers" :)

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