Hybrid

Powering Into The Future

Photo: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1

Recently Mercedes executive technical director Paddy Lowe stated that with the current power unit regulations ending in 2020, discussions should begin on what will power our formula into the next decade.

Plenty of fans since 2014 have spoken out on their displeasure with current 1.6 hybrid V6 turbo era because of the lack of the high screaming pitch that had become so accustomed to the nature of the sport.

Yet despite all of this this we’re seeing the evolution of the fastest power unit the sport has ever seen, with the first iterations of these in 2014 showing not much more than around 750-800 horsepower. Heading into 2017 with no development tokens to hold them back, the fourth evolution could well take us past the 1000 horsepower barrier, in just four years a rough estimate of a 200 horsepower gain is incredible.

But alas, the current units are extremely technical and is alienating some of the fanbase who can’t understand the technology and are often finding that they don’t give the same thrill the old engines once did because of the noise generated. 

So how do we power into the future? 

With a move away from the current power unit the most likely scenario, the biggest question is; what will be the next power plant in the back of these cars?

A move back to the 3 litre V10s of old as some of the fanbase have called for is almost out of the question, the world markets and manufacturers are quickly steering away from such units as they are just simply to fuel thirsty. The V10 would run at nearly 190kg of fuel per hour, this versus the current V6 hybrid turbo running at 100kg per hour and producing the same power now if not more so, it would appear that progression of efficiency has clearly made the V10 now a cast into shadows of history in the technology stakes.

How about a move to an even smaller unit similar to that of the LMP1 Porsche 919? A 2 litre V4 block with a hybrid system that still as a package produces 1000 horsepower? A world away from a normally aspirated V10 sure, but it certainly would be an idea put forward by the manufacturers to allow the V4 to be the I.C.E (Internal Combustion Engine) and perhaps allow a the hybrid system to have a massive development window to increase the electrical power output. 

This might be more difficult to achieve in terms of technicality and with fans being put off already by some high tech being put out there, it might be a path the FIA may not want to adopt.

How about sticking with the 1.6 litre V6 format? It’s certainly not the most popular choice, but with the continuation of any regulation set will always sees the performance gap shrink, so why steer away again at possibly a great cost to again move to a different power unit? 

With 1000 horsepower, the removal of the development token system and the 30% fuel efficiency that has been achieved, it ticks all the boxes for manufacturers to continue down this path, but with some fans who still haven’t quite bought into the concept it might be hard to convince them that this is the way forward. 

The most common suggestion that has been put forward is to bring back the 2.4 litre V8 engine, but with perhaps a version of the current hybrid system attached including the turbo. While some of the technical aspects would remain because of the hybrid systems attached, a V8 ICE is something the teams know very well and would be easy to work with.

Fans want to hear the scream of an engine that makes their hairs stand on end and rightly so, the hybrid setup will give the power unit a very different scream because of the energy recovery systems at work, but no doubt it would satisfy fans as well as keeping manufacturers interested in sticking around. 

The tricky task would be efficiency, the V8 was roughly consuming 130kg/ph on fuel, to get back towards the 100kg/ph limit we have now would be a task for the manufacturers to work on, but no doubt they would be up to it; perhaps maybe even decrease the displacement to 2 litres  could help with this?

Parity With The Rules

With Paddy Lowe making the suggestions we should start talking about it makes perfect sense. When discussions started for the current era of power units back in 2011 there was a lot of things that just haven’t succeeded in the way they were intended, with limited power units and the early frozen development on a regulation set so new really hasn’t worked out.

To get discussions underway with 4 seasons remaining makes great sense, decide the unit, get the rules and regulations fixed fairly at a reasonable cost, all of this with some wiggle room for development without complete restriction would certainly please many in being prepared for the coming change.

It’s going to be a long way until 2021, but it all starts somewhere and I don’t think many would disagree with Paddy’s suggestion to start discussing it all now, I know I don’t.

Engine Upgrades Allowed in 2015, Except Honda

After all the evolving engine regulations for the new hybrid era of F1 we have entered, it appears that a loophole has been found in the regulations that means engine development can be continued throughout the season, except for Honda.

In what appears to be unfair advantage to the rest of the other teams this will be a blow to not just Mercedes, who could lose some of their edge, but it will also be a blow to Honda. Being a ‘new’ manufacturer, they must have their 2015 power unit homologated and locked in by February 28th.

During last season there were many concerned in the paddock that the pace of the Mercedes was going to be hard to catch up on, Mercedes were keen not to allow any relaxations in the regulations as to ensure they held their advantage, but there were protests from Renault and Ferrari, it appeared that there was going to a concession from Mercedes in form of offering their ERS unit to the other teams.

The engine freeze was originally put in place as a cost-control tactic with changes only allowed if the FIA agrees that it falls under a reliability, safety or cost-saving issue. It is understood that Ferrari are the ones to have found the loophole and after many meetings Renault then joined the cause.

With the FIA admitting that the wording of the regulations was open to interpretation, it has subsequently told teams that the “most logical and robust” way forward is to accept that there is no actual date for 2015 homologation.

The ‘tokens’ the engine suppliers are allowed to use is reference to any developments made upon the power units, the teams this winter have 32 tokens they can use, but not one piece on the engine is worth 1 token, certain parts of the power unit maybe worth more, so the teams have to work out where they can make the best gains in terms of speed and pace in the engine but also reliability, which has been a lot better than expected in 2014, but I’m sure Renault will want to certainly improve reliability as their engines were the most unreliable.

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The teams will also be able to bring their developments whenever they wish throughout the season, this could mean one team gains advantage over another at different points in the season, this could prove an exciting development race from now on with now the engineers I’m sure in full swing back their factories.

Many questions will be now asked, Can Mercedes maintain their advantage with this new loophole discovered? Can Honda develop a good enough engine to keep up with the developing pack? How fast can the other teams develop to catch Mercedes

This is all part of the exciting world of F1 we all love and cherish, stay tuned!!

lilgodf1

What Can We Expect From F1 In 2015?

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Now that we’ve entered 2015 it’s now time to look forward the coming season instead of looking back on the old, we have plenty to look forward to in the coming months.

Revival of McLaren-Honda

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In 2013 McLaren announced that they would be re-uniting with legendary engine partners Honda, after their abrupt retreat from the sport at the end of 2008 it was hard to imagine them returning to the sport so soon, with the new hybrid engine regulations it seems that they’ve been tempted back into the fray of F1, It also appears that they are not coming back to just make up numbers on the grid. Honda have invested heavily into their new engine program as well as the McLaren team and have stated that they want to be winning upon their return, signing Fernando Alonso and keeping Jenson Button is the best line-up possible to do the job as well as I have said in a previous article. Honda wanted a big name signing to join the team and in bringing Fernando in certain has done that. We’ll have to see in winter testing if there are any signs of improvement from the Woking outfit.

Vettel’s move to Ferrari

Vettel-Ferrari

Towards the end of 2013 we found out Sebastian was leaving Red Bull Racing, his home since he was a young boy, it was confirmed nearer the end of the season that the poorest secret of all was that he was joining the Ferrari team alongside Kimi Raikkonen. With Ferrari in a massive state of rebuilding it would be hard pressed to imagine Ferrari fighting up the sharp end of the field, but with James Allison the chief designer finally developing the new car all the way through and massive restructurings in personnel with a new team principal in Maurizio Arrivabene and including poaching Jock Clear from Mercedes, Ferrari’s position on the grid this season will be a massive mystery, Sebastian’s idol was Michael Schumacher and he has said he would love to emulate him by helping rebuild Ferrari, question is. How long if at all will we see a Ferrari revival?

Continued Mercedes domination

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2014 saw Mercedes take the grid by storm in the all conquering W05, it was an engineering masterpiece that finally broke McLaren’s record of 15wins in a season, had Mercedes not have reliability issues they could have easily won all 19 races. It has been reported the Mercedes engine developers have said that they can find up to 60-100hp in the winter break for the new hybrid engines, this is an astonishing amount given the short time they have to achieve this. The W05 will also be evolved into the W06 this year, with any team always looking to improve the cars can the gap to them be closed down by anyone else or will the gap widen even more and leave Lewis and Nico to fight out the title once again?

Mexico’s Comeback On The Calendar

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In 2013 we heard rumblings that the sport may once again return the to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, in 2014 we finally had it confirmed, the last race we saw here was in 1992 (see picture above) with Nigel Mansell won it from Ricardo Patrese and Michael Schumacher following him up to the rostrum. The circuit is very fast and flowing but was renowned for being very bumpy, with some funds being invested into the circuit to bring up to modern standards. I’m also hoping that while improvements have been made, the circuit will keep it’s traits and give the drivers a great challenge when we arrive for the event in the autumn. With Sergio Perez being the only Mexican on the grid for the race as Esteban Guttierez was ousted from Sauber, I would like to hope that Ferrari will give Esteban a Friday outing but with it being a new circuit I doubt that it may happen. It’ll be great to get all nostalgic once we arrive ready to begin a new future in Central America.

Overview

With winter testing not very far away, like me I’m sure you’re all very keen for the action to get started once more, we can breathe a sigh of relief that the phallic noses are banned but we can also hold our breathe because the teams are only allowed to use 4 engines this season instead of 5 this means a huge undertaking for the engineers and designers, but it’s all part of the magical and wonderful world of F1 we all come back for time and time again.

69 days and counting until Australia.. Time is ticking!

@lilgodf1

 

 

F1’s Engine War Rages On

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014/12/img_1555.jpgAccording to BBC Sport, Formula 1 is considering cheaper, louder and more powerful engines in the future.

This for me is unacceptable in the wake of great strides the manufacturers of these power units have made in the past few years to get to this position, F1 finally took a huge step in it’s global attention when it decided to go down this hybrid route and it would be to great detrimental effect to go back now.

At the Team Principal’s press conference in Australia 2014 it was confirmed by Charlie Whiting who was in attendance that had the sport not gone to this new engine format, we would have lost Renault, Mercedes as an engine supplier and Honda would never have made it’s return, Mercedes would also not have come back as a factory team. F1 would be a Ferrari engined formula, and we all know this is not what the sport was all about.

In Formula One’s illustrious history we have seen many technologies come from the sport and put into our current road cars, ABS, Traction Control and Active Suspension to name but a few. Up to date road cars today are often having smaller engines attached to them with turbos to make up the power loss.

With hybrid technology is still new F1 can be a great researcher of this technology and help fine tune it for our road cars, current supercars are already attempting to utilise a KERS turbo type system, McLaren P1 and the Porsche 918 are examples of this.

Formula One needs to brave the start of this new era and keep the great work it has achieved so far, noise is only one aspect of this sport, we cannot go back to bigger and thirstier engines, in 2014 we achieved the target of 30% less fuel efficiency this new Formula, that to me is a grand success.

@SteveF1C

Engine Wars

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With Mercedes having said they know where they can find 60-100hp more when they fine tune the engines over the winter season, this must strike fear into the engine departments at the other teams.

Mercedes it appeared in winter testing to have a power unit running at about 750hp with Ferrari about 30-50hp behind and Renault 50-80hp. All the teams will know where they can make gains where they are allowed as per the regulations, but if every engine supplier made the same gains surely the status quo would remain?

I think we will see a continuation of Mercedes dominance in 2015, 2016 could be a different story, the F1 strategy group met yesterday to discuss engine regulations for that season onwards, Bernie wants to go back to normally aspirated engines in a V8 or V10, but it is clear that Formula 1 cannot take this backwards step again.

It is clear Formula 1 is heading into an engine war, Mercedes have the upper hand for now, but the future from 2016 is uncertain, who will come out on top?

Tell me your thoughts!

@SteveF1C

Strategy Group Meeting

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014/12/img_1549.jpgToday the teams will come together to discuss future of engine regulations for 2016 onwards.

The change from 2.4 litre V8 engines to 1.6 litre turbo-charged V6 hybrid units has seen costs rise from a reported £5m to £15-20m for customer teams.

Bernie is making a proposal of going back to normally aspirated engines, he said “I have been proposing, and am going to propose, at the next meeting we go back to a normally-aspirated engine with some hybrid bits built into it.

But the main part to this story is that it is rumoured Mercedes are prepared to let the other teams use their ERS unit, but it is still considered that Mercedes carry the best ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) on the grid, Is this concession enough to keep the other power unit suppliers happy? Is it enough to close the substantial gap to Mercedes?

The biggest question of all though is are Mercedes prepared to give up this clear advantage they have over the rest of the field?

Honda come back into the field as well in 2015, we await to see what pace they will have in the back of those McLarens, but it is clear that their return to the sport was integral to these new hybrid rules. Is Bernie prepared to let them immediately do a U-turn on their return?

@SteveF1C

My top 5 moments of 2014

5. Daniel Ricciardo’s first season at Red Bull/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014/12/img_1538.jpgWe all thought when Daniel was announced at Red Bull it would be a tough challenge to beat Sebastian in his first season at the senior team, but with the changing of regulations and Mercedes dominance, Daniel took full advantage of the car’s capabilities and used them to his own advantage, his first win in Canada came at the expense of the Mercedes MGU-K failures but he had worked hard to put himself in the situation to begin with, wins Hungary and Belgium were fully deserved also, finishing 3rd in the drivers standings can’t be a bad achievement in his first season at Red Bull

4. Williams Resurgance/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014/12/img_1539.jpgAfter what can only be described as a calamitous 2013 season for the Grove squad, 2014 must have been a dream turnaround. I admit I have a soft spot for Williams (who doesn’t?), being still a privateer team and their huge success in doing so. The FW36 was an outstanding success by any standard, a reshuffle of the team, switching to Mercedes power units and finally designing a good chassis underneath them, Bottas came close to a podium in Australia had he not clipped the wall, but the highlight of the season was Austria, the circuit played to the car’s strengths in straightline speed and Massa took pole with Bottas alongside to secure their first front row lockout since 2004. Since then the car went strength to strength, they didn’t take a win but the car was solid all year, 2015 can hopefully be a step up once more.

3. Hybrid Success
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014/12/img_15081.jpgAfter all the criticisms from so many of F1 fans and even Bernie Ecclestone himself (surprised?) the new 1.6l V6 Turbo Hybrid era of Formula 1 in my eyes was a success. With the combustion engine, turbo and ERS battery power combining to create a new sounding Formula 1 hybrid monster. Luca Di Montezemelo called it “Taxi driving” in Bahrain and no one liked the noise to start with, but come seasons end with some great reliability by some teams and epic racing, the critics soon piped down, except Bernie of course who seems to want to go back a step to the V8s and V10s. (See a previous article)

2. Lewis Hamilton’s Title Win/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014img_1540.jpgAfter years of close calls and near misses Lewis finally gets his hands on title number 2. A year of so many highs and lows, the 4 wins early on to the mid seasons struggles, A British GP then 5 more on the bounce after Spa’s calamities, Lewis kept his head strong, a strength not normally seen. Nico out qualified Lewis for the season and that is a stat not many would have guessed would happen. A lot of learning, hard work and perseverance really showed in Lewis’ race pace this year. Nico will no doubt come back stronger in 2015, but i’m sure Lewis will no doubt be upping his game too. Nico vs Lewis is far from over.

1. Mercedes openness and Bahrain Fight./home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/149/80413967/files/2014/12/img_1543.jpgAfter pre-season testing it was clear Mercedes had a pace advantage over the field, but the dominance we saw was unprecedented. The fight in Bahrain really showed their pace but more importantly their willingness to let them race. Not for a long time have we seen two drivers lap after lap go hammer and tongs for the win, but Paddy Lowe told them they were free to race as long as they didn’t touch. It transpired that Nico and Lewis would contend for the Driver’s crown, but despite all the on track battles, wars of words and mind games, Mercedes never defined team orders despite Hungary’s mid race confusion. They let them go at it, I commend them for that as the sport and fans benefitted from such great on track action and a title fight to remember.

@SteveF1C

Bernie stuck in the past?

IMG_1509.JPGIt seems once again Bernie Ecclestone is making the headlines of Formula 1 for all the wrong reasons. He is trying to pressurise a hark back to V8 or V10 days…

I go back to 2009 and it was once propositioned that we could turn to a possible hybrid formula in the future. At the time it was considered madness but it was decided that it was going to happen in 2013 as the year for change moving to a 2.0 litre normally aspirated v6 hybrid.

This was postponed and ratified in 2011 that the changes will move to 2014 to go to a finalised 1.6 turbo hybrid unit.

It eventually came to light that what we all thought was true, all the manufacturers bar Ferrari were going to eventually pull out if we didn’t go down this road. Mercedes primary reason to come back to F1 was because of this new hybrid era.

Using 30% less fuel in 2014 than 2013 is a phenomenal achievement, all this while being no less than 3% slower than 2013, producing more horsepower and having up to 40% downforce less.

Such great achievements have been made in 2014 and all where Bernie wants to go is to retreat back to the past where none of the teams are interested in going?

Heading down this road is clearly proving that the old man is losing his marbles more every year, long may the hybrid era last and produce fantastic racing!

@SteveF1C

F1 in 2014 comes to an end…

IMG_1488.JPGAs we draw this year to a close, we will surely reflect on a season of many highs a lows for all of the F1 family.

2014 is certainly a year to remember in the sports illustrious history, but will it be for the right or wrong reasons? Mercedes dominance and title fight? Success of the new hybrid engines? Or Money troubles for the small teams?

For me? This season has been a great success in proving that Formula 1 is capable of great change when it is required, the new hybrid era has breathed a fresh air in the paddock although it seemed too fresh for some, the former Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo labelled it as “Taxi Driving” prior to Bahrain and Lewis and Nico proved him wrong there and throughout the season with classic battles throughout the season, Alonso/Vettel at Silverstone, Ricciardo/Alonso at Hockenheim were just some of the memorable battles we had.

Williams resurgence was another great highlight of the season, from 9th in the constructors and only 4pts in 2013, to scoring 320pts and finishing 3rd above Ferrari for the first time since 1997!

Jules Bianchi’s accident in Suzuka is the lowest point of the season for me, after the findings of the investigation into what happened it was clear what had happened, but we now have to learn from this, in 2015 we will be using the ‘Virtual Safety Car’ in the event of any accidents that call for it, it is effectively a full course yellow flag and drivers will be required to slow to a speed set on their dashboards immediately, this will neutralize the race, but also give safety to the marshals recovering cars around circuit and drivers taking more care at the scene of the accident itself.

Looking to 2015, with little regulation change going into the new season, it’s hard to see if anyone can still challenge the Mercedes, Williams appear to be the closest challenger, but with Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren with the new Honda project all chasing, it’ll be hard pressed to make any guesses as to what will happen, but that’s what we love about this sport. Unpredictability

@SteveF1C