Thursday, January 23, 2014

The New Formula 1 Engine is Badass


At 760 horsepower, this turbocharged, hybrid-electric power uni… er, engine isn’t just the most technologically advanced mill in the world, it’s also one of the most efficient.
In recent years Formula 1 has made a big push toward efficiency, and to make the technology propelling guys like Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso around the track at least somewhat relevant to the cars the rest of us drive. They’ve experimented with kinetic energy recovery systems and even toyed with the idea of making the cars run only on electricity in the pits. Beginning this year, teams are are downsizing from a 2.4-liter V8s to 1.6-liter V6s that feature direct injection, turbocharging and a pair of energy recovery systems that pull in juice from exhaust pressure and braking. They also sound like pissed-off vacuum cleaners. This isn’t the first time F1 has embraced turbos, and the new hybrid systems are a step up from the push-to-pass KERS systems we’ve seen in recent years. It’s a whole new breed of racing technology that balances output with efficiency.
It’s where power meets programming.
“In essence, engine manufacturers used to compete on reaching record levels of power,” says Naoki Tokunaga, Renault F1′s technical director for Power Units. “But now will compete in the intelligence of energy management.”
That last bit — “energy management” — is the key to F1 in 2014, and poses a host of new challenges for both the engineers and the drivers.
“In the relationship between fuel used versus lap time, there is a borderline between what is physically possible and the impossible — we name it ‘minimum lap-time frontier,” says Tokunaga. “We always want to operate on that frontier and be as close to the impossible as we can.”
760 horsepower out of a 1.6L engine?  At that ratio, my 2.0L Focus would totally kick ass.

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