Mercedes engine boss Andy Cowell says the new 1.6 litre turbo engines, which will be introduced next year, will not be the dominant factor – however he does expect there to be more of a difference between rival power units compared to this year.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault will supply units to teams next year, with Cosworth leaving the sport at the end of 2013. The new units, which will have more relevance to road cars, will replace the current V8s.
“I think we could see more of difference across the power units next year,” Cowell told the October edition of the JA on F1 Podcast “The FIA were keen that those who were down on power in the 2008-era were permitted the opportunity to do performance upgrades to narrow the gap. Now there is a chance for a spread in reliability and performance capability.
“However, there will be a big spread in terms of aerodynamics, too, and a spread on the tyres so it will all add up and go into the melting pot. I don’t think the power unit will be the dominant factor. I think they will wrap together and we’ll see varied racing.”
With such a big regulation change, Cowell says it is inevitable that there will reliability issues. “There’s a good chance the reliability will be a bigger factor next year than this year,” he said. “We have got new technology introduced in all areas of the power unit. There is also a change in the sporting regulations where instead of eight engines per driver per year, they will need to use just five.
When asked whether teams will be able to get through a season using just five engines, JA on F1 technical advisor Mark Gillan said: “I will be surprised if it’s achieved. Engine manufacturers have spent a lot of time and money looking at reliability.
“But the teams are also looking at drivability of these cars and looking at them in the simulators to see how to best eek out fuel through the race. They may have different requirements in terms of mapping and that will impact on the drivability and reliability.”
If teams can’t make five engines last across the season, there will be penalties of varying degrees depending on the type of failure. Gillan added: “For viewers, it’ll be difficult to understand the penalty system. A lot of effort has gone into trying to get fair penalties through via a rating system whereby if a part of the engine fails, it might be a two-place grid penalty but if the complete engine fails, it might be five.”
Next season KERS will be replaced by ERS (energy recovery system). Cowell said: “It will recover energy from two sources – the kinetic energy from the car under braking and the heat energy left in the exhaust stream through a turbine wheel into an electric motor.
“The two sources of energy will be stored in a battery pack which is approximately 10 times the capacity of the battery packs we’re using today with Kers. Around 4MJ can be deployed, which is over 34 seconds that it can be deploying. That is a significant percentage of the time when drivers want full power. It will contribute over two seconds of lap time.”
The other key challenge for teams will be fuel efficiency, as they will be limited to 100kg of fuel for the race. That’s a reduction of 60kg from this season.
“The 100kg for the race was chosen as an aggressive target,” said Cowell. “We’ve got a 35% reduction. That’s why we have introduced turbo chargers, which is the single biggest piece which is giving us the efficiency improvement.”
You can hear more Mark Gillan and Andy Cowell in the October edition of the JA on F1 podcast, click play below. It also features interviews with Caterham owner Tony Fernandes, four-time world champion Alain Prost, legendary commentator Murray Walker and FIA presidential candidate David Ward. (Cowell is at 28m 25)
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