A return to winning ways?
Marina Bay 2014
Singapore Grand Prix
F1 in the Future – The Engines
News
F1 in the Future – The Engines
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Dec 2009   |  1:34 pm GMT  |  104 comments

Thanks for all the feedback and ideas so far. Given widespread concerns about global warming and the environment, the conspicuous consumption of fossil fuels for entertainment is a concept that has a limited shelf life and it present risks for the sport. This is the key area where innovation is essential for survival – it’s as simple as that.

Perhaps given the seriousness of the situation, many of your ideas concern the engines, fuel economy and alternatives for the future.

F1 cars will always be light and will need a lot of power from the engine. Most engineers agree that twenty years from now the prime mover of a Formula 1 car will probably still be fossil-fuel powered, but with a strong element of electrical assistance from hybrid technology, which recovers energy from braking and recycles it into motive power through electricity.

They all agree that the engine will probably be just 500cc, with a development of today’s turbos attached to the exhaust to harness the exhaust energy. The unit will probably develop around 300-400 horsepower, with boosts coming from energy regeneration. Scavenging energy to convert into power will be a vital part of the story. They will have direct fuel injection, variable valve timing and small motor generators on each wheel making the most efficient recovery of energy. Currently engines are only about 30% efficient. Engineers believe that by then they should have improved to be around 50% efficient or more.

F1 has to fit in with the developing process of man’s reaction to global warming and this presents its major threat. Between then and now F1 has the chance to present itself as the laboratory for the drive towards fuel efficiency and sustainability.

One of the challengers for the rule makers will be noise. The sound a racing engine makes is a big part of the attraction for many fans, but it will no longer be acceptable in 20 years time to put out 100 decibels. The sound will have to be reduced, although not to the level of hybrid vehicles today, which are virtually silent.

Although great progress is expected to be made in electric car technology in the next 20 years, engineers do not believe that F1 cars will be electric by then as it would take a revolution in battery technology to make ultra lightweight batteries which were able to charge up quickly enough in the energy regeneration phase, store enough energy to cope and then discharge the energy quickly enough. There will be good electric racing series in 20 years, but will F1 be one of them? Probably not.

Hydrogen presents safety concerns which are considered unlikely to be surmountable by then, according to F1 engineers I spoke to.

Featured News
MORE FROM JA ON F1...
Share This:
Posted by:
Category:
104 Comments
  1. AndyFov says:

    A lot can change in 20 years, and I don’t think we’re able to predict with the slightest degree of accuracy what F1 may evolve into.

    Who in the 80s era of Sony Walkman portable casette players could have possibly envisaged that we were less than a generation away from devices 20x smaller that can tens of thousands of tunes? Ditto advances in home computing, the Internet, digital cameras etc. What seems impossible now probably isn’t.

    Really though, the amount of fuel used on race day has to be insignificant when compared to the amount of fuel used in freight shipping the whole circus around the world? Isn’t that where savings need to be made? Maybe the F1 championship of 2030 will have 20 back to back races in Abu Dhab? ;)

    1. Ted the Mechanic says:

      Your point about the cost of the travelling roadshow is valid. But I guess when the world looks at F1 in the future they will not just be looking for drama, entertainment, engineering excellence, extravagance and excitement, as they have done in the past, but for useful technological innovation, real world spin-offs, role-model type leadership and education in reducing carbon emissions and countering global warming. But still demand and expect close exciting races and championships.

      The drivers and other key players will continue to be the main focus for the fans – our fascination with celebrity and thirsting for more information about what the superstars think, say and do will only intensify as blogs like this and further advances in communication provide us with more up-to-the-minute information and debate about our heroes and villains.

      But back to the cars and their motive power…

      Why not have an electromagnetic system like the high speed trains which hover above the track and are propelled forward by magnetic repulsion. Rather than being the sole motive force it could be used in conjunction with other principal systems perhaps only on certain parts of the track like at the beginning of straights where a car would have to be aligned with the strips in the track to get the benefit of the extra thrust to get a slingshot down the straight and possibly past another driver who may have been slightly off line.

      There’s no reason why you couldn’t have hybrid systems combining petrol, diesel or biofuel engines, electric motors and KERS as well as a magnetic boost system as above.

      1. graham says:

        With electric motors at all four points for KERS, I envision an electromotive drive such as trains currently use. There will be no more need for difs and gearboxes. All that will be done electronically. TC and LC will be with us to stay as a byproduct or F1 will be as relevant as horse racing… quaint but irrelevant when every road car will depend upon these systems.

        The motors will be greatly lighter due to massive gains in permanent magnets used in the motors. The motors will be mounted inboard on the chassis to keep unsprung weight in check. They hay have a great gear reduction ratio spinning them to unheard of RPM levels near 100K so that the torque load can be handled by a light motor.

    2. Jonathan says:

      “The amount of fuel used on race day has to be insignificant when compared to the amount of fuel used in freight shipping the whole circus around the world?”

      … correct, but the amount of fuel used in shipping the circus around the world is insignificant when compared to the amount of fuel used by hundreds of thousands of fans travelling to the races!

      And what about the amount of electricity used by a hundred million TVs?

      Let’s face it, global warming is not down to 20 men in brightly coloured beefed-up go-karts. It’s rather the combined effect of six billion people all wanting the benefits of industry, agriculture, transport and technology for themselves and their families.

      1. graham says:

        Let’s face it, global warming is a provable hoax foisted upon us by those who want to centralize world gov’t under their exclusive control. In the last 20 yrs the planet has slightly cooled. And any metrics that claim to measure the temp of the planet beyond 40 yrs are all suppositions built upon models contrived to obtain a desired result. It matters not that we have temp logs from 30% of the planet’s (land) surface going back a century. That still leaves 70% unmeasured. The only reliable way to take the temp of the planet as a systemic whole is from satellites which haven’t been equipped to measure it until the last 40 yrs, really the last 30yrs with sufficient accuracy.

        The AGW theory is a hoax unraveling before our eyes. In less than 5yrs it will be dead in the water and the proponents of a centralized world gov’t will have selected their next propaganda excuse as to why we must all panic.

      2. Rick J says:

        I don’t see scientists like James Lovelock accredited with discovering the whole in the ozone above Antarctica being out to foister world gov’t under centralized control on anyone. Judging by his lifestlye he is probably closer to the anarchist fringe. He has predicted cataclysmic climate change within 20 – 40 years with disasterous consequences for humanity if we do not address this issue.

        Either way there is a massive public perception of the irresponsibility of motorsports in general. It makes absolute sense to respond in a concerned and conciliatory way to those concerns – whether right or wrong.

      3. graham says:

        Rick…. conciliatory yes, reactionary no. Ozone and CO2 are different things. The ozone hole is more affected by deep sea volcanic activity than anything else. Volcanic (sulpher) gases contribute towards 95% of ozone depletion. If mankind therefore reduced his influence to zero things would still largely be unaffected.

        We needn’t trip all over ourselves trying to show how green we are. Just keep it real. If you read my above passage I think KERS, electro-motive drivetrains etc. hold great promise without all the complexity and moving parts of AWD with difs and trannies etc.

      4. Rick J says:

        Graham, surely it was clear that I mentioned Lovelock’s discovery of the ozone hole in the atmoshphere to demonstrate his credentials and credibility, not because I am ignorant of the difference between ozone and CO2. References to oceanic sulphur are of interest but I well recall the near global ban on man-made hydro-fluorocarbons instigated to address the generally acknowledged cause of the problem.

        And with apparently positive results given the holes diminishment in size.

        Personally I take elevating green house gas concentrations very seriously and have a deep respect for the calibre of the science behind the research and the integrity of those trying to address this issue before the planet renders humanity’s best efforts redundent.

        Political conspiracy theories tend to leave me reaching for the channel changer. That said yes I fully endorse your F1 related technical ideas.

    3. Rob says:

      looking at all the developing engine technologies, my choice would be the MYT (massive yet tiny) engine coupled to a CVT transmission.
      This engine is said to have a better power to weight ratio than the most modern jet engines.
      take a look at the website, angel labs i think it is. The design has won awards fron nasa.

  2. Steve Arnott says:

    Hmm…engines are tricky.

    Hybrid does seem to be the way thngs are gong, but I believe it is possible we will see a complete conversion to electric engnes. Maybe not in the next twenty years, but maybe within thirty.

    Regarding that battery revolution: of course it will happen! Who would have thought 18 years ago that the electronic wizardy that helped propel Nigel Mansell’s FW14B to the title would be dwarfed by the computational power and storage capacity of a mobile telephone? Or that using the Internet you can have video telephone calls with almost anyone in the world, for free?

    Technology changes so quickly that, frankly, I’d be amazed if in 20 years we didn’t have a viable electronic storage solution. Whether or not F1 chooses (or is required) to adopt this is a very different matter…

  3. Stu says:

    How about having nuclear powered F1 cars? Maybe we’d never get used to a whooshing noise instead of the roar we get from todays engines. But I’m sure the we’d get over that when we see the green grow of the drivers on the podium.

    Alternatively cars could be charge via special induction spots on the tracks. These could even be placed off line to promote over taking.

    Back to reality though, bio-diesel is the way forward.

    1. Martin says:

      I like the induction idea. Because electric motors are so efficient, passing would be more about chassis and aerodynamic performance.

      Nuclear power comes in two forms – ion emission, which is feasible for space manoeuvring due to the low weight in near zero gravity, and fusion and fission reactions, which involve heat capture. The associated mechanisms are quite large for a car.

      I’m not a fan of bio-diesel as a concept. The input energy costs are relatively large, and the resources for production could generally be better used feeding people. Bio-diesel gets mentioned because the supposed carbon-neutrality about it. What it does is shorten the cycle that the original fossil fuels go through. You may as well plant vegetation that stores as much CO2 as possible and burn oil, rather than plant crops for turning into fuel. Bio-ethanol or methanol is likely to produce less CO2 per unit energy than a diesel derivative as there are fewer carbon chains.

      I’d like to see the cars running on hydrogen produced from something other than fossil fuel generated energy.

  4. Rob says:

    What are the safety concerns involved with Hydrogen power? I thought it was only the storage that was the problem. If they cant’t find a way to store Hydrogen in 20 years then I don’t think it will ever be used as a safe power source.

    1. Stephen Kellett says:

      Safety concerns: Accidents – designing a storage container (and all linking pipework) strong enough to survive the worst accident.

      Summary: Nice idea, ain’t gonna happen.

    2. lip_iceman says:

      As you point out, storage (under loads of pressure) is a problem. It’s also explosive, so having an accident would be detrimental to a driver’s health.

      The methods to seperate hydrogen molecules from water require the burning of fossil fuels (Joule for Joule, the same, if not more, carbon emissions come from hydrogen production as does from burning petrol).

      1. Ricardo Blach says:

        A few counter arguments:

        Hydrogen production does not necessarily have to be powered by burning fossil fuels. H2 produced from water electrolysis uses electricity, which can be sourced from renewable systems very cleanly and efficiently, and with the added bonus of enabling a distributed fuel production infrastructure.

        Furthermore, in the future (∼2030), large scale low cost H2 will most probably be produced from thermal reforming of water at Generation IV (and subsequent) nuclear reactors.

        As for the storage problem, pressurised and cryogenic storage are not the only solutions. Research is ongoing into molecular entrapment and other technologies that aim to offer light weight and provide high storage density.

        Time will tell, but if we accept the common argument in these comments today that we can’t discard any potential technological advances over a 20 year period then the above is no more likely or unlikely than the suggested leap in battery technology.

        Additionally, we should not disregard the safety advantages offered by H2. It’s speed of diffusion and light weight ensure that in the event of a leak or even a rupture the H2 would rapidly ascend and dissipate upwards and away from the accident. In contrast, gasoline stays around and sticks and soaks while burning.

        Personally I also believe that whatever the chemical fuel, thermal engines will be present in F1 for a while and that most of the closed system* gains in efficiency will be achieved by implementing the so called hybrid power train technologies (energy recovery, extended range configurations…)

        * by ‘closed system’ I mean the car only, and I exclude everything else, from sourcing the fuel to moving teams around the planet. To be truly green F1 teams should ensure that all the energy they consume in all their activities came from renewable sources.

        Great post as always James, Thanks!

      2. Martin says:

        Nice post – I basically agree with everything you’ve written. Heat capture will be an interesting area. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but there are diesel engines used for buildings that technically run at greater than 90 per cent efficiency. Unfortunately, much of the energy is water at about 80 degrees Celsius. The heat capture cycle probably more than double the mass of the system too.

      3. Stephen Kellett says:

        The methods to seperate hydrogen molecules from water require the burning of fossil fuels

        Not necessarily true. Solar/wind/tidal are perfect for this purpose. Plenty of solar in Africa. Moot point anyway, given the problems of storage.

  5. martin_tf says:

    Another good post and I agree about the engines getting smaller. But, I think that eventually we will see electric race cars, perhaps in lower formulae or saloon cars first though. Electric is so simple and so perfect for motivating a car. The internal combustion engine with all those complex moving parts, creating heat, adding cost and complexity and increasing the chances of something breaking.

    Electric cars also bring the advantage of a flat torque curve, meaning we won’t need equally complex, expensive and potentially fragile gearboxes. If you run both rear wheels from separate motors then you can simulate the world’s most advanced limited slip diff purely in software and vary it’s characteristics in the blink of an eye.

    If Motor Sport Engineering truly is the science of making cars go fast for fun then electric would be a great step forward. I think that the competitive environment might help to push through some of the advances needed in battery capacity and weight too.

    The biggest problem we need to overcome is finding a way of making them sound good. I couldn’t imagine watching a grid full of silent cars.

    1. Travis R says:

      You might enjoy checking out Formula zero:
      http://www.formulazero.nl/

      It is still in its infancy, but they are using hydrogen fuel cell technology.

      There is also the TTXGP electric motorcycle racing:
      http://www.egrandprix.com/

  6. Wingers says:

    Have to agree… Sound… That is the biggest challenge for most.

    What would any motorsport be without the sounds? Superbikes without the throaty Ducati, F1 already has lost tons of character from the V12′s and V10′s of yesteryear. Thankfully the gearchanges are violent and loud, with great crackling and grumbling to add to the suspense. Nascar, those 5l V8′s opening up. I get goosebumps just typing this thinking about it. I have to admit the Diesel LeMans cars had a cool turbo whine… but it was all just a bit too under control to get excited about.

    I can’t imaging getting excited to iRobot style Audi’s ziiiiinging or wiiiissssing around. If anything they sound annoying. I love the sound of a Maserati or Ferrari even idling along with the Exhaust note on tickover.

    So no noise… what are we left with? What’s the point of a supercar if its not brutal in sight and sound?

    It’s exciting to see what the world can come up with in the next 20 years to address serious issues, but I am happy that I will be able to speak fondly of the years back when F1/SuperCars was/were loud and brutal… and perhaps in existence?!

  7. Steve JR says:

    Your article makes me reflect on the Ferrari statement that it would stay in F1 for as long as F1 is F1.

    Your description of what F1 might become doesn’t exactly set me on fire James! With all the manufacturers abandoning F1 in their droves this last year, I don’t see why F1 should feel any pressure to conform with the evolution of production cars. F1 has always been about fast, noisy, petrol cars built by super smart people and that to me is a core ingredient that transcends its heritage and should always be maintained. To deviate from it implies to me that F1 will seize to be F1 and I dare say the likes of Ferrari will finally throw in the towel.

    1. GP says:

      It may be a case of legislation forcing the change. In other words, governments could force those changes and simply ignore what race fans would like to keep or otherwise.

  8. Penfold says:

    How boring, the unsubstantiated menace of global warming raises its ugly head again. The amount of petrol Formula 1 uses is totally irrelevant, go after the cows that’s what i say.

    1. Neil says:

      Of course it’s a miniscule amount of fuel – that’s not the point.

      If the world moves to new fuels, then F1 will look outdated if it stays on fossil. And hardly the pinicle of motorsport.

      They said a diesel would never run at Le Mans, but it did. They said it would never win…

      Neil.

    2. Marc says:

      Agreed.

      I want Petrol, Noise and Exhaust flames. Maybe F1 needs to start focusing on what’s exciting rather than what’s good (if we are to believe what’s dictated to us) for the polar bears. Let them swim!

    3. MartinWR says:

      Penfold, thank you for that. Nice to see someone talking good sense here. Particularly like your allusion to the great global brainwashing nonsense. That has long been exposed for what it is, the biggest, most disreputable, most expensive fraud in the history of mankind and hence it shouldn’t be allowed to spoil our fun, or anyone else’s for that matter.

      Since when was motor racing anything to do with being responsible anyway? And F1 is the maddest form of motor racing out. Which ought to make it the most fun. Hmmm ….

      Oh well, maybe it’s merely just the most costly.

  9. Mark Stephens says:

    I don’t understand the need to decrease the engine sizes nor use the regeneration stuff either. There has been alcohol on this planet since the dawn of time and it runs great in a race car. Why not use what mother nature provided and continue to have great racing and quit using technologies that will never replace what we have today.

    1. MartinWR says:

      Run F1 on alcohol. Why not vodka? We could have a Russian champion then.

  10. Chris Crawford says:

    I’m not sure I like this article. 300bhp? Electric motors? Quiet F1 cars??

    …….hhhhmmmmmmm

    next I’m going to hear that due to health & safety rules the drivers can’t actually be in the car…. And have to control them by remote control from the pit wall….!

  11. Alexis says:

    Why shouldn’t high decibels be acceptable? It’s only a couple of hours a year in each country!

    You’d also end up with a stage where F1 cars sound castrated, but GP2 and World Series cars still sounded like a racing car should – bloody loud. That would emphasise how namby pamby this horrible F1 vision of the future would be.

  12. Richard says:

    You say that it would require a revolution in battery technology to have an electric F1 car in 20 years. But if you look back at battery developments over the last 20 years you will have seen mobile phones develop from the “luggable” to the ultra-slim, feature packed devices that are common now. If the same rate of battery development continues, I can see no barrier to an electric F1 well within the next 20 years!

    1. lip_iceman says:

      The problem is that even the best rechargable batteries “wear out”. They always have, and unless some incredible breakthrough in chemistry occurs (which I hope it does), electrodes will continue to deteriorate and we’ll have the same pollution problem – except a dump site full of lithium, not air full of carbon.

      Ask the KERS runners this year – every race x kg of (ultra expensive) batteries are chucked after every race. Not sustainable.

      1. lip_iceman says:

        -every race. its late.

      2. Martin says:

        Still, having F1 pushing development is a good thing as it justifies the sport to non-believers. Solid waste can be managed, gases are a lot more of a problem.

  13. I think you might have missed one possible angle with electric cars. The battery issue might be less relevant if batteries are quickly changed during the pitstops. In that case you could have several light battery packs for several sprints during the race. Some sort of refueling renaissance.

    1. Ted the Mechanic says:

      Very good point Andrius. That is clearly a possibility and instantly solves the viability question. In conjunction with a KERS charging/forward momentum boost system it looks even better.

  14. Peter says:

    I live for the noise, the smell of burnt oil and burnt rubber. As F1 turns more green, I will have to turn away. This is unfortunate but inevitable. To watch a bunch of electrically powered and quiet cars buzz around the track just doesn’t give me a woody. I miss the screaming V-10s most of all.

  15. Terry says:

    I think that your last sentence, which could feel like a throwaway, could be the most important. A long-term outlook on engines seems dependent on energy storage considerations: how to store sufficient energy in way that is safe and appropriately “dense” (not too much weight or volume). Thus the discussion on engines should rather be one of integrated powerplant, energy source, efficiency and storage solutions. One could argue that the FIA did not sufficiently think about integration issues before allowing KERS, which seemed a gimmick (think CART’s “push-to-pass”) as much as a forward-looking approach.

  16. Stephen Kellett says:

    James,

    Super efficient battery material is already in the labs.

    There is one which is silicon based, currently non rechargable (but they think that will be fixed in a year or so) and it out performs the top metal hydride batteries by more than an order of magnitude. And being silicon, its non-polluting, it is effectively, sand.

    Another one is a new application of carbon-nanotubes, with a coating of silver. This is incredible as you can make batteries out of a paper like material (completely flexible – this gives new packaging opportunities never before seen). These batteries are again, much more effecient than current batteries and can be recharged many 1000s of times before they fail. And being made of carbon nanotubes and silver they are effectively non-toxic.

    If these technologies (and others like them) can get out of the labs quickly then in 5 to 10 years time cars like the Tesla should accually be able to handle better and perform better than their petrol powered equivalents and go further one “tank full”.

    Seriously, this stuff is for real. Its going to happen and not as slowly as many people think.

  17. Geoff says:

    Something else to consider re: sound… a huge amount of energy is wasted (unintentionally) & goes into producing that ear-splitting F1 shriek. So an engine that can put that power to the driveshaft, instead of wasting it through the air as sound energy, is more efficient. I love the insane sound of F1 cars, and I kind of hope it never changes, but we’re literally hearing energy being wasted.

    I think the most effective way to keep F1 engines relevant & interesting (to both fans & manufacturers) will be to make it a fuel-restricted formula, and to open up energy recovery solutions.

    1. Martin says:

      I reckon the turbocharged Champ cars and (from TV) the turbo era cars still sound good – there is still noise and energy wasted, but not as much.

  18. Neil says:

    I predict that F1 cars will have a motor on each wheel to both drive the wheel (just apply electricity) and reclaim energy under braking (so generate electricity.) The small engine in the car will generate electricity. No drive shafts to break in this world – only wires to each wheel. (Maybe doubling up as the safety tethers?) This would give all sorts of opportunities with suspension layouts. Alternativly, put the motors inboard and have a simple, direct, drive shaft. More standard suspension, but less unsprung weight.

    What will run the engine? Well I guess “small fossil fuel” is a possibility. Don’t rule out hydrogen. A few storage breakthoughs and it will be a real contender. I think the world’s next mega-billionaire will be the person who solves the “hydrogen storage” problem. Ditto don’t rule out massive battery technology improvements. There is a huge sum invested in battery R&D worldwide right now. And as another poster said, why not use alcohol rather than a fossil fuel?

    Unlike some, I think this is an exciting area :-) Just as long as we can make it noisy! It’s only a few days a year…

    Neil.

    1. Martin says:

      I suspect that low unsprung weight will win out as this will help traction over bumps.

  19. Jose Arellano says:

    PLEASE DONT REDUCE THE NOISEEE!

  20. Chris_F1 says:

    Very interesting post Thanks James

  21. rpaco says:

    It’s not only battery technology for storage, that needs to be improved (in fact capacitor storage may be much better) but the connecting cables which create huge losses and need to become superconductors.

    Of course the electrical energy could be used to maintain a spinning mass instead of being stored in capacitors or batteries. It is likely that to become efficient, voltages will have to be increased very dramatically, this will lessen the necessary conductor cross section (let thinner cables be used) but require high grade insulation.

    Someone above mentioned nuclear power, I assume they meant low temperature fusion. What is needed then is to turn it directly into electric power instead of crudely using it as a boiler to produce steam. Controlled continuous EMP effect?

    Fuel cells may eventually become light enough to replace batteries as energy sources, running on hydrogen, currently the operating temperatures are coming down to an acceptable level.

    As you mention James, turbos eventually will be back, but the huge flameouts and plumes of white smoke that indicated a Ferrari on the track in the first turbo era will probably not happen again.(remember the mobile chicanes?)

    Hard to believe that I already drive an 11 year old diesel turbo which may have many times the permitted capacity if not the power
    of the future F1 engine.

    It would be sad to loose the sound, but in fact all sound emission is a loss of energy, almost unavoidable in a reciprocating engine, but much more manageable in a rotary or Wankel engine.

    Heat needs to be reused somehow too instead of dissipating it to the air as an energy loss. Most heat is generated when energy is being moved, or being changed from one type to another ie chemical to mechanical or electrical to mechanical. Electrical to chemical, so the fewer changes the more efficient.

  22. chris says:

    I will be running a Honda V12 engine in 20 years time as i take part in the monaco grand prix in real time on my billion pixel 3D TV which is connected to my home computer that renders every crack and crevice of the principality in perfect detail. In 20 years time my neighbor will invite all her friends to watch the race on her virtual yacht on facebook and my nephew and his mates will be in the pit lane changing the race leaders tyres with their Wii controllers.

  23. Chad says:

    Hopefully they will move toward just specifying a finite amount of energy available per race (be that in electricity, diesel, petrol or whatever) and let the teams come up with any sort of engine they can think of to use that energy most efficiently.

    I doubt a CC limit will be appropriate in the future personally.

  24. Meeklo says:

    I’m starting to feel that perhaps F1 isn’t the platform to develop regenerative systems. The fans and race teams don’t want it. And it’s all just for show.

    LeMans, prototypes and endurance races though are better suited for initiating these technologies both into motorsport and back into the automotive industry.

    But its all because F1 is more popular, that people feel it has to be done there.

    And with the talk of needing to enclose or cover wheels to make any further headway into safety and aero efficiencies, why not re-brand LeMans as LeMansF1 and let it become the “top of the racing pyramid”?

    1. Martin says:

      It comes down to what the rules allow, and competitive advantages. My inference from reading Gordon Murray commenting on diesel at Le Mans is that it is hardly a level playing field and that the fuel is hardly what you get the local servo. If the power level for KERS was higher, e.g. 150 kW, then all teams would have gone that path – and there would have been differences as the technology would have been stretched. At 60 kW, it was easier for teams to drop the technology if they had problems rather than persevere. I believe the FIA wasn’t bold enough.

  25. george debenham says:

    James another interesting article thanks for your great efforts particularly during this holiday period.
    Reading comments already submitted made me think about inovations that were radical in past years. I know it was before your time but I remember watching the Lotus gas turbine car in the British grand prix in the early seventies. It was resplendent in gold leaf livery as it whispered around the track. It was deadly slow and finished the race several laps behind but did get a big cheer from spectators every time it passed. The noise from the crowd drowned out the noise from the car, not an effect I would like to see in the future. If indeed we do go ‘electric’ in the future perhaps they will play soundtracks over the public address system featuring Ferrari and Matra v12s and perhaps even the BRM H16, what do you think?

  26. Andrew Hill says:

    Electric motor coupled to CVT ‘box would be greener and potentialy faster. But rather sterile.
    I can’t see the TV companies bidding millions to broadcast souped-up golfcarts each Sunday.
    I suspect focus will shift away from engine and more towards drivetrain.

  27. Steve Arnott says:

    1 for F-Zero style power strips! *

    With contactless charging already here and wireless domestic electricity very, very nearly here, this idea isn’t too far-fetched.

    Can you imagine a world where you never again have to plug in an appliance or physically fill you car with ‘fuel’? If F1 can help to deliver this whilst remaining the pinnacle of motorsport then I’m all for it.

    I admit the lack of sound would be an issue, but I can name several great circuits on which F1 cars are now forbidden, a reason for which is the noise. So we may lose some of the thrill, but regain some classic circuits. Fair trade-off?

    * For those who haven’t played it, F-Zero is an old Nintendo game where futuristic hover cars race against each other at 600mph and recharge their ‘power cells’ each lap by driving over an induction strip at the side of the road. It’s very cool.

    1. Stephen Kellett says:

      Can you imagine a world where you never again have to

      Yes. It will be a world with a lot of very ill people in it. I hope it never comes to pass.

      At that point, the only way to live healthily will be on an island without that technology.

      Humans and strong eletromagnetic fields do not get on well. There are plenty of documented cases of people who were unfortunate enough to have electricity substations next to the house. The poor soul that got to sleep next to it suffered all manner of untracable illnesses that magically vanished as soon as they slept somewhere else.

      The last thing we need is smaller, localised versions of this pervading every aspect of our lives. Really bad idea.

      1. Steve Arnott says:

        Oh, I don’t know. If it’s done properly it would be as safe as any other power technology we have today. And bear in mind that all modern power solutions started from something not quite so polished. My grandad was telling me the other day of how he nearly burned his house down once when he turned on his light…a gas lamp. That’s only one or two generations ago, which I still find amazing to contemplate.

        Personally I’m excited by the prospect. Running out of juice in your car? Just pull over into the recharge lane for a couple of minutes. Sweet!

  28. Fuller says:

    At the moment so many things are limited in f1, I would love to maybe see a release of some technical things, and then see each car only given a limited amount for fuel for the race, and maybe even for qualifying too. Then it would be up to the designers to come up with radical new ways to be more fuel efficiency and make the races interesting as different people promote different tactics in employing their fuel use!

  29. Tom says:

    I think we will see 100% electric cars in formula one within the next 20 years. I think it will be the availability and the cost of oil that will drive the switch to electric cars. Environmental pressures will be a side issue.

    There is a large debate as to how much oil is left in the ground, estimates seem to range from 25 to 40 years but it will won’t be economical as power source for family cars long before then, I don’t think it will be different for formula one cars.

    I think the push for shorter races will enable electric cars to be practical.

    Williams will lead the push for KERS to be accepted by the teams for 2011 and will go alone if they don’t have a consensus. They have invested too much money to abandon it. It is a shame that the FIA put so many artificial restrictions on the use of KERS.

    I don’t think formula one will suffer from 100% electric cars, there is nothing partially clever about noisy dirty petrol engines but just like steam engines they seem to provoke an irrational emotional response from people. I didn’t notice the drop from V10 to V8 engines just like I didn’t notice the drop from V12 to V10 and we won’t notice the switch to electric.

  30. Ian Blackwell says:

    400 bhp 500cc engines for F1…. surely this is more applicable to Moto GP. One obvious alternative is to allow turbo diesels in F1. They are more efficient, develop far more torque and put out less CO2. They currently dominate sports car racing and if a couple of teams switch, everyone would have to follow suit to be competitive. Mating them to a hybrid system could then be a logical next step. All this tech already exists and there is no reason this can not be done for the next engine formula. One of the biggest problems with modern F1 has been the idea that engines can not be a source of competitive advantage which is why they froze engines a few years ago. This is ridiculous. It has kept new manufacturers from looking at F1. If F1 is supposed to be the bleeding edge of motoring, why are there more advanced drivetrains on road cars these days? The sad truth is that instead of F1 providing technology to the next generation of road cars, we are actually discussing how technology that already drives down a road near you can be pushed into F1.

  31. Mario says:

    Great idea with that battery pack cartridges exchanged at pit stops.

    I think, however that batteries will only be used to support main source of electricity on the car, namely the flywheel. The only remaining problem with this is to handle the gyroscopic effect of the flywheel. They are working on it and they will solve it, because flywheel is by far better than anything else.

    Anyway I think that if F1 will not go 100% electric it will face massive competition from 100% electric series.

    And the sound of the engine problem can also be solved, I believe. In 20 years time we still probably be moved by it as much as we are now, but new generations might not give much about the sound as they will slowly be made accustomed to the quiet buzz of the electric motor.

  32. michael grievson says:

    Take a carton of pop and jam it between the back wheel and the chassis like we did on our bikes as kids

  33. Buck says:

    As the engineers say, it may very well take 20 years to make some of those radical changes, but then again, 20 years is a LONG time, especially when it comes to technology and the rate at which its advancement continues to accelerate.

    20 years is also a long time when it comes to cultural shifts and public opinion. In 1989 relatively few people were talking about any environmental issues and global warming, but it is now one of the dominant issues of our time.

    If the collective consciousness continues to shift to greener ways of living, it won’t be the F1 engineers deciding what kinds of technologies are acceptable to use, it will be the people who watch F1 and those who buy products from the sponsors of F1.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ve always thought that it was the NASA space missions which beamed back pictures of our planet floating in space and made us realise how fragile it is and how vulnerable we are – that really got people thinking about the environment. But you are right; global warming wasn’t a big talking point in 1989

      1. Buck says:

        Just to add to that train of thought, while it may seem incomprehensible to many to watch F1 without combustion engines and the noise they make, most people do eventually adapt to changes, and once they have made those changes part of their lives, may often look at the way things were done in the past with incredulity.

        There are non-motor powered forms of racing that are still exciting to many fans without the roar of engines, and besides, F1 cars at 300kph would not be silent by any means. When someone sees a downhill ski racer fly by them at speeds sometimes exceeding 150kph for the first time, other than the astonishing speed, the next biggest shock is the roar of their bodies tearing through the air. Since an F1 car is much bigger than a person and goes twice as fast, I would imagine that the air noise would be considerable.

        And without engines covering up the sounds of tires squealing on pavement, the spectator may get a better idea of who is really pushing the car to its limits.

  34. Fergus Duncan says:

    Methanol has been a viable fuel for years, plenty motorsport vehicles run on it, ethanol is equally viable, look to the ‘lower’ motorsports disciplines for the future . . .

    I was watching all electric ice racing today on the TV . . . not that Electric is more ‘eco’ than petrol, when in all likelyhood the power came from coal . . . shame the press aren’t smart enough to realise this . . .

    Time F1 got it’s head out of it’s own arse and got back to grass roots racing anc technology . . . as it is increasingly viewed as a bunch of overpaid primadonnas by the real grass roots of motorsport.

  35. JonW says:

    Well I for one won’t be watching F1 cars that are only 300bhp and quiet.
    What’s gonna become of GP2. F2, F3 etc? Strimmer engines?

    If F1 cars aren’t loud, powerful and fast what is the point of them?

  36. lip_iceman says:

    I’m all for kinetic energy recovery, and I think Williams is onto something with the flybrid tech. Flywheels are by no means the newest storage method, nor are they as easy as batteries to use as storage devices, yet they are lighter (per unit potential energy storage) than the best lithium polymer batteries, and are serviceable.

    With a relaxation on the engine rules, I am certain that homogeneous charge compression ignition engines will be most prevelant. The most radical of these engines is a free-piston engine (of which I am [coincidentally] in the process of designing) – an engine with one moving part, that is hybrid by design (the generator isn’t attached to a crankshaft).

    A more conservative HCCI engine is found in the Mercedes F700. This is a hybrid vehicle that is already acheiving 50% efficiency. Once the HCCI engine is perfected, its thermodynamic cycle will be around 50% efficient alone, and any KERS will add to that figure.

    Totally agree that the prime mover will be liquid fuel. Remember, charging batteries requires burning fossil fuels anyway.

    Regards!

  37. Tezza says:

    F1 Sponsored by LPG! hey why not. The “F” in F1 could stand for Farmers! Home grown crops to create combustion-able fuels is a reality, though we will need more than the current level of redundant fields to develop enough crop. Exotic Bio-fuels are the answer here but this will not just be about reducing the capacity to say 1000cc, twin turbo and all the recovery the future F1 car can carry. In fact there will be so much “recovery” they won’t need a truck to get them back to the paddock!

    Seriously though the current regulation on engine freeze will need to be lifted pretty soon or at leased announced. This kind of development will take years, in how ever many phazes. 20 years may seem a long way from now but in reality is quite a short time frame.

    I can see their slogan now: Mercedes – “Moon Shining Silver” arrows – BENZ-ine no longer required.

  38. AndyB says:

    I think the answer might be in the fuels.

    Some sort of non fossil fuel bio-ethanol type thing that lets us still have plenty of noise. And flames.

    I don’t know how many fans electric F1 will have. May as well give the drivers remote controls for their cars well we’re at it.

  39. paul moss says:

    Agree with some of the posts regarding technolgy rate of change. Its exponential. if we take the last 20yrs of battery development and extrapolate that into just 10yrs into future, u begin to see where we might be in 10-20yrs. And, if the teams are free to develop the technologies they choose, then development may very well be faster!
    Nobody argues that less restriction is the way to go if we want innovation. Surely there are ways to couch regulations that allow for freedom of powerplant type? Efficient internal combustion, Electric, hydrogen, energy-recovery..they could all be options. It doesn’t matter if one team romps away to win, the others will follow-suit damn quick if they’re onto something. In the past F1 has benifitted from this approach enormously. The thirsty super-charged alfas vs more frugal big un-supered ferraris, rear-engined vs front-engined, wings or no wings! We don’t think back now and say, “oh, those rear-engined cars ruin it, they alwys win!”, and teams won’t think of it as a 2 tier formula so long as they allowed to change to the faster option without penalty.

    Give engineers more freedom in powerplants, and write some smart regs to match.

  40. Jamie Giles says:

    James will we ever hear you commentate on the BBC? You are different class of commentator in comparison with Jonathan Legard.

    Where there ever any meetings between you and BBC chiefs regarding commentators position? You are seriously missed.

    Your passion is sorely missed!

  41. Conor says:

    Cold fusion!

    Back to the future :
    Dr. Emmett Brown: “No, no, no, no, no. This sucker’s electrical. But I need a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity I need. “

  42. Kakashi says:

    interesting thoughts!!
    i would like to add here that electric cars (at least today) are not necessarily more environmentally friendlier as compared to conventional petrol cars.
    the biggest issue is when it comes to dispose of the batteries… imagine if all cars in the world run on batteries… where would all the li-ion and other chemicals end up?
    not just that… i remember in one of the top-gear episodes, they proved that traveling by car has lesser carbon foot print per commuter as compared to that of an electric train…
    so unless we can find out a way to recycle/ the batteries we can’t claim that electric is the way to go…
    solar energy has the most potential but there are still few gaps to be filled

  43. Kakashi says:

    on that i had heard that williams had developed a KERS system that used flywheel to store the energy as compared to batteries.. that could be the direction for sustainable future coupled with some environmentally friendly fuel source such as solar power
    also the circuits can use the heat /geo thermal energy produced by the cars to produce electricity.. i m sure there is alot of energy produced by the cars over the entire course of the event that is lost in the environment which if captured can be put to use and bring the “green credentials” to the sport.
    few such steps could help offset the carbon emissions and F1 can play the part to be the laboratory for future technologies at the same time

  44. Karl says:

    Thanks JA for another good read.

    This is my first comment on this site so it might be all over the place.

    Before anything, it is hard for me to imagine why it is so difficult to implement a budget cap. As prominent examples, the NFL and NBA in the states have salary caps (a huge portion of the teams’ budget) that work quite well.

    Expanding salary cap to most of the teams activities is a bit of work but not inconceivable. Considering F1 is essentially a franchise league, this is needed to keep smaller teams competitive, as opposed to European football leagues where there are opportunities to get attention (and income) from relegation, etc.

    It seems that people in the business are (since they are mostly Europeans I suppose) ignoring the difference between the business models of F1, which is in fact closer to the franchise model in the US, and other sports leagues in Europe and want to have their “freedom.”

    Regarding the actual topic of the article.. I personally believe it is best to lift all the regulations and simply put in a “carbon credit” limit alongside the comprehensive budget cap, and maybe (a big maybe) a personnel number limit.

    Carbon credit is a simple enough concept that it is easier to market, which many companies have started to use around the world. This way teams will have a lot of flexibility to venture into different technologies within the budget cap, which I think is another big interest generating point of the sport. For example, some teams would go for a big bio ethanol engines (since they would consume a lot less “carbon credit”) as some have done in the US, or some might think that electric system is better (given that the battery technology will advance, which very slowly is.. but it is a well known fact that we have reached the limit of the traditional technology for making batteries more capable until we have a breakthrough in fuel cells. Clearly at this point it is not feasible even with 3 pit stops to change packages), or to stay with the petrol engine.

    This opens up the avenue for hydrogen engines in the future as well without a change to the rules. Of course some rules still need to be enforced (safety regulations and tests, tires, and perhaps some limits on the aero wake, which can be tested in a wind tunnel with the chassis).

    Again, this brings us back to the fact that F1 is really a franchise league. With the budget cap it is possible to have people really put in the effort and money for the future if things don’t go well this year. I would take another example from the NFL: teams at the bottom of the league often give the current year and the next 3-10 years up and put in a large investment in key personnels such as a quarterback (replace “quarterback” with “engine system” or “advanced KERS system”…).

    Many of these technologies can lead to driver aids. For example, I am pretty sure KERS can easily be used as a TCS (since KERS sort of has to be controlled by electronics it is easy to use KERS to replace brakes in the overall TCS system). If the budget cap and unlimited development are implemented, it would be a challenge to deal with these issues. Noise and other marketable “amusement points” are topical issues that would need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

    1. Stephen Kellett says:

      but it is a well known fact that we have reached the limit of the traditional technology for making batteries

      It may be well known, but it is incorrect.

      New technologies with new materials, order of magnitude better performance and superior packaging as well. All as of Nov/Dec 2009.

      Most people seem to be writing batteries off as at their peak, they are nowhere near (unlike the internal combustion engine which has changed little during my lifetime relative to changes in battery tech during the same timespan). Nanotechnology is changing many preconceived ideas about these areas.

      1. Karl says:

        Yes, except that we have been hearing the exact same stuff for the past 10 years without a “breakthrough.” We have had advancements in lithium-ion batteries, but no real breakthroughs from the fuel cells that we were promised ten years ago, in fact it was widely promised even twenty years ago if I remember correctly. Given the history, it is a bit early to be “sure” about such a breakthrough happening from another technology and productionized within 3-10 years.

        It is in no way to imply that batteries are at their peak and I am sure they will advance to a point it can replace petrol engines (there certainly are a number interesting technologies being tested in the labs), but it is to say that their progress to get better has been a lot slower than expected, and as of now there is no reason to believe otherwise.

  45. DanielC says:

    First time commenter, love the site BTW, the most informed and civil of any comments section anywhere…anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about future racing cars (writing a project about just that). I think the writings of Ray Kurzweil can lend an insight. He posits convincingly that technology grows exponentially and that when things grow exponentially it makes it difficult to exactly predict how fast they will get “out of control”, or at least beyond our wildest predictions (although he does try). F1 being so tightly entwined with technology it would be hard to see it not be affected by this growth. Basically what I’m trying to say is that I think the next 20 years will surprise us all.

  46. murray says:

    I wonder how much energy could be harvested from a generator coupled to an exhaust-driven turbine? If a turbocharger isn’t used to compress an intake charge, could it contribute to an energy recovery and boost system, even under current or pending F1 rules?

  47. Andrew Hill says:

    Running an electric motor with CVT ‘box may be greener and quicker. However, as many have pointed out previously the sound of F1 cars highly tuned engines is part of the attraction.
    I think the gearbox and drivetrain in general will see more development before the sport retires the internal combustion engine. Rules currently specify certain number of gears, between 4 and 7 I think, which is restricting development. You can now buy a Skoda Octavia with 7 speed, double clutch auto ‘box, F1 needs to stay a step ahead.
    I have a feeling that Jame’s next post will focus on drivetrain.
    By the way James, this is not the first time that alternative fuels and power sources have been tried.
    Rover BRM Gas Turbine car, tested for the 1963 Le Mans, never really took off, so to speak. And neither did Chrysler’s clean burning, liquid natural gas turbine-flywheel racing car, circa 1994.
    I hope F1 doesn’t disappear into an environmentally friendly black hole of it’s own making.

  48. Andrew Hill says:

    James, I found an article whislt browing for related info. Looks like other formulas are already experimenting with greener racing technology.

    “Audi has been stomping the competition at Le Mans with its diesel R10 and R15 racers, and it even brought some biodiesel along last year. Peugeot has been right behind the Germans with its own turbodiesels and plans to run a diesel hybrid at Le Mans in 2011. Here in the United States, the American Le Mans Series runs a whole slate of alt fuels and hands out awards to the most eco-friendly entry. And boutique automaker Panoz is working on an ALMS race car that burns algal fuel.”

  49. Frankie Allen says:

    If anyone had to describe the death knell for F1 in the future, this would be it. F1 can only marginally be aligned to green friendly before falling flat on it’s face, because everything that generates the excitement is totally anti green. I can fully understand limits being placed upon fuel usage during a race but as soon as you reduce it below a certain level, you are better off with 250 MotoGP.

    If you try promoting F1 as having significant green credentials, this position has more holes in it than the biggest deep sea fishing nets. Anyone who believes that F1 can be used to efficiently develop the green initiative must remember that this could be achieved for a fraction of the cost and energy in a standard development program. F1 is all about excitement, pace and power.

    There is still a place for F1 in this ever encompassing green environment, but more akin to a chocolate biscuit every two weeks in a restricted diet. You can only go so far diminishing the end product until such a point where it no longer becomes attractive. Horse racing could follow suit by adopting only Shetland ponies mounted by camel jockeys, it is just not viable past a certain point.

  50. Olivier says:

    What? So road cars will be ahead of F1? They are actually allready. The hybrids are on the rise and they are here to stay. In this respect. Honda, BMW & Toyota were right to drop out of F1. F1 is just an expensive marketing tool with irrelevant R&D.

    But it shouldn’t be. F1 could drive innovation as decisions need to be made in a blink as opposed to the endless board meetings in companies.

    Fossil fuelled engines are a dead end. Who cares about noise? Everyone is wearing ear plugs allready. And if you don’t, you should. Wake up! All the noise of our road cars have been DESIGNED by a group of engineers. It is like clubbing. There’s no need for the music to be so loud.

    Imagine a F1 car at high speed without noise. That is truly sci fi! You could hear the sound of the wind. One could replace the noise by relevant commentary and live stream pitlane interviews from James Allen and the likes. At the end of the race a victorious driver could speak to his fans live from his car in his out lap :)

    1. dominator says:

      F1 has always been about the pinnacle of technology and it has trickled down to road going cars . If you are going to sit ther and say that it is irrelent to development you are not only ignorent but uneducated . Wher do you think that todays suspension came from or the common automatic tranny . Stop living in your own fantasy world and come back to reality . By the same token i gues medical reasearch is just a expensive pr campaign .

  51. Joel says:

    An interesting series of articles, thanks.

    As someone who is working with a group who have developed a hydrogen fuel cell powered car, it seems like the ideal power plant for a racing car and has a lot to gain from being developed in that environment.

    Neither storage or safety issues need be a barrier as there are vehicles in service now that meet all existing norms.

    Going back and proposing a volatile fluid as a fuel, that pools under the damaged vehicle, would now be very difficult if it had not been so well established. Hydrogen can be exquisitely well contained and managed and rises away from the vehicle if released.

    Generation of Hydrogen can be accomplished in many ways that are in tune with environmental good practice but they need to be developed on a large scale to have an impact.

    I can see motor racing looking at both problems, generation and motive power. It would be very interesting to see teams having to create their own Hydrogen and then using it most effectively at a race meeting.

    Hydrogen would give the range required for a proper race and would more readily fit a race chassis than batteries, which have even more complex safety problems and will remain bulky and heavy for a long time yet.

  52. Jodum5 says:

    I still don’t get why the sport won’t liberalize a lot of the regulations (with the one stipulation that cars must have a certain level of fuel/energy efficiency) to allow the teams to innovate and arrive at the best possible technical package for their powertrains. Dictating from the top down, will only result in incrimental advances versus more exciting (probably more expensive since teams will waste money on dead end ideas) prospect of different teams/cars pursuing different solutions.

    In my opinion, best way to initiate such a long term excercise is to remove the engine formula restrictions and switch to a fuel/energy efficiency formula that becomes more restrictive over time. Once the excercise becomes build the fastest, most reliable, most efficient powertrain system as possible (maintaining no refueling and liberalized powertrain regulations), teams would be forced to innovate.

  53. Tombstone says:

    I’d prefer to see a limit put on both fuel capacity and fuel flow, but allow the engineers the freedom – de-restrict engine capacity, layout and induction – to find the most efficient method of getting the most power for the duration of a race, including the use of KERS. If the power outputs increase too much then further limits can be placed on the fuel system.

  54. Tone says:

    James
    Just curious as to why the engineers have safety concerns with Hydrogen fuel when it is less volatile than petrol.

    This is where I’d like to see the sport go. Not only is hydrogen the most plentiful substance in the universe but the exhaust emissions is nothing but harmless water. It needs a lot of electricity to produce the fuel but that is offset by the tons of oxygen the process produces.

    Also, as far as I am aware, the cars will sound like a normal petrol engine. The fans win. The environment wins.

    1. Jonathan says:

      Pumping more oxygen into the atmosphere does not “offset” the rising CO2 levels. If only it were that simple!

      In reality, making hydrogen fuel takes an awful lot of power. That power has to come from somewhere, and if it’s coming from fossil fuels we have gained nothing by switching to hydrogen.

  55. D.Clark says:

    Can anyone say Podrace?

  56. Gantsta says:

    The sad thing is, this sounds far more entertaining than the future vision of F1 being described throughout this post!

  57. Martin says:

    James, I think we should be pushing for more power. Daniel Ricciardo said after the recent test that the car basically had more grip than power. As a drivers championship, we want it to be the other way around. The engineers keep finding downforce, so more power is needed. From a half litre turbo they’ll get close to 500 kW from petrol in time reliably, but this isn’t enough!

    1. James Allen says:

      I agree with that, good point

  58. Matt says:

    Smaller quieter engines, electric, hybrid ! all thing that make worry about the future of F1. F1 should be about going fast and nothing else, if a technology comes along that doesnt make an F1 car go faster then it should have no place in F1.

  59. Baart says:

    Lets read this text in 10 or 20 years, and we will see what will be the future. James, remind us about this text :)

    P.S.
    I`ll be….around 50!!!
    Hope i ll change my Fiesta by then ;))

  60. ja9ae says:

    I think hydrogen is going to be left behind as an automotive fuel. For general purposes, I think all-electric vehicles charged form the grid is where we’ll see domestic cars go. The question is, does F1 & other motor sport formulas follow the trend of domestic vehicles?

    If they did, I think we would see many new technical innovations to aid competitiveness such with drives being able to control the distribution of power to all 4 wheels, and with pit-stops for changing powerpacks & energy conservation/management during the race being as important then as they are now. And isn’t it these kind of elements that interest most dedicated F1 fans the most: drives & teams putting the best in automotive technology to the test?

    The sound will be a sad loss though! But with F1 engineers pushing motor RPMs to 200k and beyond, who knows what the new sound of an electric F1 car might be like?

    AJ.

  61. Rudy Pyatt says:

    Happy New Year everyone! And thanks again for the book, James. A wonderful read.

    Now, back to our regularly scheduled program, already in progress…

    As is always the case, F1 has ignored simple solutions. Alcohol fuels to name one (alcohol made from tobacco ought to run a car at least as well as moonshine liquor…). More broadly, the FIA has put the sport into this bind by decoupling it from engineering in the “lower” classes. As someone pointed out above, there’s no grass roots connection. Of old, F2 regs provided a direct preview of, and warm-up for, the next F1 – and many of the innovations seen in F2 came out of F3. The history would be more tedious than difficult to mention, but citing Cooper and Lotus will suffice for now.

    A return to this practice is urgently needed. FIA surveys are not enough. FOTA surveys are not enough. They have inherent lag-time before anything practical can be implemented based on the findings, if implemented at all. There must be a way to prototype the formula, to see, on track on the shop floor and in the grandstands, how a new formula would work. I wrote a guest column in Racecar Engineering to this effect about F2 (which ran, ironically, in the same issue that the spec series route would be taken). The basic concept was simple: Production motorcycle engines (as defined by the FIM, a body with which the FIA has no visible coordination, another obvious thing that something needs to be done about), ATV or snowmobile engines at a max displacement of 1200cc.

    Going further, and using the same sources for engines, I’d say turbo/supercharged four-strokes to 600cc, unblown to 1200cc; two-strokes unblown up to 800cc and blown up to 450cc, ideally running on alcohol fuel. The appropriate chassis and safety rules are ready off the shelf via Appendix E of the FIA code, the “national” or “free formula” regulations. Set a 450kg weight limit (WITHOUT ballast), and allow designers freedom over type of transmission, choice of driven wheels, and position of the driver relative to the engine i.e., permit front-mid engined designs – a realistic possibility in four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles.

    Adopting this as an FIA Formula Four (F2 having taken a different road) is feasible and can be done quickly. It’s essentially in place right now. Racers around the world have already made such cars and engines the standard at the club and lower professional levels in all manner of formulae (e.g. Formula BMW, the SCCA D Sportsracer class, Radical Sportscars, Legends Racers, Minisprints, NHRA Jr. Comp dragsters, etc., etc.). Bringing these strands together as I’ve described cannot be too difficult. Many of these series already provide a model, taken from Formula Ford, for how a world championship could be run to this formula without the ruinous travel costs associated with F1: National or regional championship series from which the top (five?) finishers in each would go to a World Final. Rotate the location of the Final year on year, and you have the bonus of Bernie’s “Olympic dream.”

    Think about it.

  62. Rob P says:

    Looking through the comments on this post i was surprissed to not see any mention of different internal combustion engine configurations. i for one would love it if they opened up the rules to allow rotery engines or the new MYT (massive yet tiny) design.
    The MYT design has a better power to weight ratio than even the most advanced jet engines (read the engine in the f22 raptor) and has awesome fuel economy.

  63. John C says:

    “but with a strong element of electrical assistance from hybrid technology, which recovers energy from braking and recycles it into motive power through electricity.”

    They already had it with KERS. Why did they get rid of it just when it was working ? One of the best bits of telly ever seeing Eddie Jordan having to swallow his words that ‘no KERS car will ever win a grand prix’

    Yes, PLEASE give them more power & less grip. I love burning hydrocarbons and the lovely smell and noise that it makes. But we can’t do it indefinitely.

    Global warming or not (what, Copenhagen, and the Arabs want us to PAY THEM if we stop using their oil ? Make me laugh – I presume that this is on the basis that they’ll stop supplying oil now if we don’t. Isn’t that called blackmail ?) there is a finite supply of oil.

    F1 is about the bleeding edge. There are several here who say you can’t or it’s not possible. So we couldn’t fly to the moon ? Build a monocoque car ? Ground effect ?

    No, not everything is possible, but F1 should be leading the pack, not following it. Why not push electric technology ? Being cleaner doesn’t hurt, regardless. Maybe we will all benefit in the long run from better batteries or other power storage techniques, motors or entirely new technologies etc. Think what could be done if all the engine manufacturers in the world overnight had to stop development of the internal combustion engine (30% efficient now after over 100 years of development, maybe 50% efficient in 20 years ? Big whoosh. Not.) and push all their R&D cash into finding a new power source………….

    The trouble is that there are too many vested interests (namely the extremely rich people who control most of the oil) who want oil to stay……… Is F1 brave enough to send the oil companies the way of the tobacco companies ?? I doubt it. Money talks and integrity slings it hook and walks.

    What a sad world we live in. But as long as F1 is on the edge & pushing cars to the limit, I’ll be watching.

  64. Rene says:

    James,

    Pardon me if I’m a bit off topic here (I am not an engineer) but surely this whole discussion is mooted if the FIA’s idea of saving money is to ‘freeze’ engine development, or to even SUGGEST tuning down the dominant Mercedes engine of 2009 to level the playing field for this season. Please correct me if I misunderstand the above and ignore the following rant…
    Surely the whole point of F1 is to outsmart your opponents technologically whithin the given restrictions (Brawn 2009?). Would it not be much, much more entertaining watching different solutions to the same problem race each other (under the same budget restrictions), than stifling development and handing out standardised parts to save on development costs? The Idea of slowing cars down for the sake of safety is in my humble opinion a misguided one in a sport like F1. Dont lower the performance, Increase the safety! Never offer a technological ‘hand down’, always offer a ‘hand up’. The drivers are supposed to be the top athletes in the world – they know what they are getting themselves into – and have the talent to do it safely (look at professional surfers – the risks are HUGE and they still manage). And the engineers are surely capable of coming up with solutions to any safety concerns that may arise – which would be useful in the real world as well.
    To get back to the engines of the future – so many interesting concepts and ideas have been mentioned in this discussion – the FIA should give the F1 engineers the freedom to pursue some of them, instead of dumbing the sport down in every passing season!

  65. Franco says:

    I have been reading all your comments on new technology for the future of F1 and saving the planet, it has taken a long time to read because so many of you have given your ideas. I have been watching F1 all my life and I believe that if any of the brains behind F1 have read your ideas would be laughing to how you think is the way foward in F1. These guys are so clever that when the time arrives they will have the solution to making F1 as quick and as exiting as it is today. So please let the professionals get on with it and all of you stick to your full time jobs. It’s basically the same in every sport, take the England team in the world cup at the moment. Everybody is an expert at football, just let Capello get on with it because he has the crudentials in his line of work just like the F1 designers.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Top Tags
SEARCH News
JA ON F1 In association with...
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer