THIS year marks a watershed moment in F1 history – the engines will undergo downsizing, turbochargers will make a return and we’ll see the addition of advanced energy recovery systems in motorsport’s pinnacle formula.
Vast amounts of money and engineering resources are being spent in an attempt to gain a fraction of a second in lap time. You’d be correct in thinking that the technology used in a modern F1 car should filter down to production vehicles for the benefit of all. That, however, has not been the case in recent years and, in particular, powertrain technology has started to lag behind the direct-injected, downsized, turbocharged units found even in entry-level production vehicles. This is all about to change, as the 2014 F1 season will be remembered for a major change in regulations and the shift towards efficient power.
This year will mark the return of the turbo. The last time a turbo engine raced in F1 was in 1988. Thereafter, blowers were outlawed. The 1 500 cm3 units of the time allegedly delivered in excess of 900 kW, running four bar of boost in qualifying trim. This season will see all teams use a 1,6-litre, 90-degree, V6 petrol engine limited to 15 000 r/min (see page 108 for specifications) with no limit on boost pressure. Before you get excited, however, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) decided to restrict fuel flow, in essence limiting boost to less than 2 bar. The engine must also be able to last 4 000 km, or twice last year’s requirement.
The kinetic energy-recovery system (KERS) of 2013 drops the “K” because it now compromises two separate energy-recovery systems. The maximum ERS power now allowed is 120 kW for around 33,3 seconds a lap (considering the 4 MJ capacity of the energy-storage device) compared with the 60 kW for six seconds allowed with KERS last year. A rule states that the only mechanism that may be used to alter the torque to the driven wheels is the accelerator pedal, which would appear to render the “pass” button (deploying KERS) on the steering wheel illegal for 2014.
2. Energy storage
Energy recovered by ERS can be housed in an energy-storage device that weighs between 20 and 25 kg, with a maximum energy capacity of 4 MJ. The mechanism for storing the energy is not defined, but it is generally accepted that a battery system will be the simplest solution.
3. Motor generator unit: kinetic (MGU-K)
This unit consists of an electric motor/generator permanently connected to the crankshaft of the internal-combustion engine at a fixed ratio. This motor can supply a boost function in parallel with the engine or recuperate kinetic energy during braking and send it to the energy-storage device (see page 108). The maximum speed of the electric motor is restricted to 50 000 r/min and it may not deliver more than 200 N.m of torque.
4. Motor generator unit: heat (MGU-H)
This second electric motor/generator (MGU-H) is connected via a clutch to the turbo shaft of the engine at a fixed ratio. The maximum speed is limited to 125 000 r/min, but there is no limit to the maximum power supplied or extracted from the turbocharger unit (see above). In generator mode, the unit can recover normally wasted energy from the exhaust stream via the turbine and make the use of a wastegate obsolete. Motoring mode can be used to spin up the compressor of the turbo to eliminate turbo lag and produce full boost on demand.
The specification of fuel allowed in an F1 car resembles the petrol you buy at the pumps, although there is leeway for oil companies to optimise parameters. An example is the research octane number (RON) that may range between 95 and 102. The maximum fuel that may be used per race is 100 kg (compared with some teams’ usage of 160 kg in 2013) and the maximum fuel-flow rate to the engine is 100 kg/h above 10 500 r/min. Below 10 500 r/min, the maximum rate is governed by a sliding-scale formula.
In essence, this restricts the potential chemical energy to the engine. With petrol at around 46 MJ/kg, that would equate to 1 278 kW in energy. The 1,6-litre turbopetrol engines are believed to deliver around 447 kW (600 hp), which would require a conversion efficiency of 35%. As the most efficient combustion requires the air-fuel ratio to be about 14 parts air to one part fuel (lambda one), this will indirectly limit the amount of air through the engine and, therefore, boost.
Eight forward speeds (plus a reverse gear) are mandated for this year compared with seven in 2013. The ratios have to be nominated at the start of the season, with no further changes allowed. All gear changes are manually actuated.
Packaging of the new drivetrain in the rear of the car is a big challenge. Not only do the additional energy recovery systems take up space, but so do the extra cooling requirements of the intercooler radiators. Here are further changes specified by the 2014 regulations.
The nose design will again be a contentious subject in 2014 because the tip of the nose must not be higher than 185 mm from the underside of the car (for safety reasons) compared with 550 mm in 2013.
The front wing has been narrowed by 150 mm compared with 2013’s version. This will make it more difficult to direct the airflow round the front tyres and also reduce front downforce. The main difference to the rear wing is that it will lose the lower element of the box section (beam wing) that was also used to create downforce.
The mandated single exhaust will have to exit in a central location at the rear of the car in an area devoid of bodywork. This is done to prohibit the so-called “blown diffuser” that aided downforce last season.
To cater for the extra mass of ERS, the minimum weight of the car without fuel will be 690 kg compared with 642 kg in 2013.
Impact on production cars
It is clear that energy management will play a crucial role in how fast a 2014 F1 car will lap a circuit. Computer simulations and advanced techniques will be used to create the most optimum energy-management algorithms to control the energy flow between the different systems. The end result will be the most efficient F1 cars of all times, which bodes well for the application of the technology on road cars. Hopefully the 2014 season will unlock some e ciency gains that will lter down to the production cars we buy in time.