F1 Winter Break
Analysis of F1 engine performance in 2009
Analysis of F1 engine performance in 2009
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Nov 2009   |  3:47 pm GMT  |  106 comments

There is a great piece of work on Auto Motor und Sport’s website with an analysis of the engines in this year’s world championship. The analysis is based on collating the information each engine builder has about each other.

I’ve checked it out with some of the F1 engineers and it seems that the data is a pretty accurate reflection of the numbers they are working with.

The result is that Mercedes comes out top, with Toyota at the bottom.

Throughout the year one kept hearing stories about how much the Renault in the back of the Red Bull car was down on power compared to the Mercedes in the Brawn, Force India and the McLaren. In fact Renault were allowed to improve their engine quite a lot from 2008 to 2009 and it ended up not far off the performance of the Mercedes.

Most teams reached the conclusion, based on acoustic analysis and GPS, that the spread of engine power from the best to the worst engines was less than 2.5% this year. This means that, if the Mercedes is believed to have had 755hp, the least powerful engine was 18hp down, which is worth just under 3/10ths of a second per lap.

The BMW and Mercedes were at the top, with the Ferrari just behind, then the Renault and the Toyota. On this basis, given how close the lap times were between teams this year, the Toyota and Williams chassis must have been pretty good to withstand losing 3/10ths of a second through engine performance alone. Both teams had the double diffuser from the start of the year, of course.

Responding to rumours in the paddock about the performance of the Mercedes, the FIA took a Mercedes’ engine apart and tested it after Monza, giving it a clean bill of health.

The Renault won out this year on fuel efficiency, however, which was pretty important this year and will be much more important next year with no refuellling. Compared to the Mercedes, the Renault would go four laps longer on a full tank of fuel, which is worth about 3/10ths of a second per lap next year. The Ferrari was less efficient than the Mercedes, as we saw on several occasions this year.

As for next year, Cosworth is believed to be quoting a figure of 770hp, which is up on the Mercedes, but the fuel efficiency is still an issue and the unit is well short of the reliability testing of its peers.

Mercedes was given clearance by the FIA to supply a fourth team next year, but is not able to do so, due to the terms of its agreement with McLaren. Mercedes now owns the Brawn team, while McLaren has a technology partnership with Force India. So it is not in McLaren’s interests to add another competitor.

Red Bull is in limbo at the moment, waiting to see whether Renault, on whose engine its 2010 car is designed, will continue in F1. A decision is expected at the end of the year.

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Interesting data.

James, I know there's never just one thing giving performance in F1, but all things being equal - would the extra horse power in the Cosworth balance out against the weight of the extra fuel it will need to carry if they can't improve the mpg?


And how does the weight transfer with the extra fuel affect the stability going over the bumps? I have never seen a F1 simulator in action, but the video here http://www.gadgetsboystoys.blogspot.com/ shows just how violent the bumps can be, this is off of a purchasable consumer simulator, so I imagine on a real F1 car the extra weight must be grueling...



When you speak of comparitive lap times (e.g. x makes the car 3/10 sec a lap faster), what base laptime are you using? Is there a 'standard lap' (e.g. Catalunya) around which such statements are made?




glad to hear Renault were actually good at something!!! On track results were dismal for Fred but I reckon he didnt want to risk anything ahead of his move, so cant really blame him.....lets hope they stick around for 2010. #:)


Thanks James, exciting bit of info as usual. I noticed the Renault was more fuel efficient, as Alonso always exceeded his predicted stop by 2 laps on average. Now James I am think the super package would’ve been; the Merc engine, the Toyota chassis, the Brawn Double diffuser, the Red Bull’s aero, and what else? With Alonso or Hami behind it, managed by Mr. R Brawn?


McLarens KERS system too !


First of all just wanted to say it's a great site you have here James, I was just wondering would the weight of the engine have a measureable effect of performance compared to the other engines?


engines are all a minimum weight anyway, with a minimum height for the centre of gravity. all the engine builders had give-away with regard to weight, so no-one would have had any advantage with regard to that.


To the overall performance of the car, you mean? Weight is weight. As long as they can get the total weight under control, it will not affect things too much.


To add to James' reply, no there is not. But any excessive weight in the engine - which is positioned relatively high and to the rear of the car, is excessive mass which could be placed on the floor nearer the front axle. With larger fuel tanks and the continued use of control tyres, having a light engine will be even more vital to optimising the vehicle dynamics.

Narrower front tyres and an increased minimum weight will help to offset the effects of this, but they will only go some way to doing so.

To expand the Centre of Gravity will shift to a much higher degree next season, what with burning ~150kg of fuel through a race distance, this means the engineers will have an even tougher time optimising and compromising the cars setup for a whole race distance on both types of tyre - having a heavier engine therefore makes this task even more difficult, posing more of a penalty (albeit a very slight one) in 2010, but in Formula 1, every hundredth, thosandth of a second counts.

Then there is qualifying! A good race as we know is difficult to achieve without a decent grid slot, but a car optimised for low fuel on soft tyres, will not handle as well at the beginning of the race 150kg heavier at the rear with harder compound tyres, see where this is going? It will still be possible to go 'light on fuel' to a degree, by gunning for pole compromising your race car, and the different cars will handle the tyres and fuel drop off differently anyway.

Put short without overcomplicating and going too techy, tyre temperature optimisation (remember Brawn's troubles this season) will be very difficult to achieve over a race distance, the oversteer/understeer characteristic will shift as the fuel burns and it will be difficult to optimise the slip angles generated at all four wheels for the race distance - there is only so much difference a notch in front wing can do.

This added to the mouth watering prospect of the potential battles we are going to have at the front, makes me eagerly await Bahrain next year, I think we are in for a treat!

Sorry for the ramble at the end, but I hope that explains things for you


F1 designer will ensure that the fuel tank is positioned directly over the centre of gravity so that fuel burn will not change the CoG.



I'm happy with your physics. I think the rules have set a minimum engine mass (95kg?) and this was with restrictions on the metal alloys that could be used and block rigidity. I think the mass is easy enough to achieve, so the engines end up with heavy crankcases.


Oh and everything I have said above elaborates as to why (aside from the simple Force = Mass x Acceleration) fuel efficiency is going to be more vital than ever. If the numbers in Auto Motor und Sport are true, there certainly won't be much to choose between the Renault and Mercedes engines next year, indeed, provided they stay, Renault and Red Bull may find themselves with the best overall performing engine in F1 next year.


Can't wait for the day when McLaren start to run their own competitive engine, I just hope they'll be able to hit the ground running.

Fuel efficiency will be key next year and I'd assume Mercedes are working on that aspect of their engine as I type.

Matbe we'll see both Audi/VW and Korean manufactured engine in the not to distant future though with the current engine rules there's be no point?


There's not much Mercedes can do under the freeze. Upgrades for reliability are allowed and disclosed to other teams, so these can target reduced friction as a secondary benefit. Tweaks to the oil and fuel can give gains too. The density of the fuel was something that Shell and Ferrari worked on in the first half of this decade.


As engine economy and power will be critical so 2010 Weight is going to be interesting, 620kg minimum (last year it was 605kg) having completed the race with a teaspoon of fuel left and including the marbles picked up on the tyres in the slowing down lap. This also includes the driver, who may have lost a few kilos himself during the race. The engine itself

The lighter the driver, the more ballast can be used in the places wanted to distribute the mass of the car, this may be rather more significant next year because of the large change in total mass distribution during the race. (unless of course the fuel bladder is bang on the centre of mass).

The engine efficiency is one major factor but the overall efficiency must be related also to the aero efficiency, the drag. Clearly even an excellent engine will require more fuel if it has a dog of an aero package around it. Ironically the tyre warming issues of last year resulted in greater downforce being required. (though I never quite got over the high air temperature being too hot to warm the tyres, the air was too thin to create enough downforce) Next year tyre warmers are banned (27.4) so the warm up lap will be dramatic.

It will certainly be interesting to see how the Cozzie engines actually perform in the cars under vibration, gforce etc. As you say theoretically they have the edge but it may well not turn out like that.


Mercedes may surprise us all and go after and get Montoya, in a good car he'd be very fast and would be great for F1.


JPM would have to loose at least 10lbs if not more to get back in an F1 car. I was looking at a picture in profile and he's working on a nice Big Mac belly there. Soon he'll be competing with Tony Stewart for the title of fattest and most out of shape driver. Thank god for those incessant yellow flags in NASCAR!!! 😉


Yeah he's gained weight but he still has that rare talent (not many would be faster) that's completely wasted in NASCAR he's better than that.

If he was offered a chance to win in F1 who knows that may be the motivation he'd need to train as he should.


NASCAR fitness is about heat endurance - they are a lot hotter than F1 cars due to the front engines and exhausts running under the cabin. The yellow flags make things worse as the airflow is reduced. I suspect the F1 cars run rather cleaner as well, but this would be countered by those wonderful carbon brake particles. The exhaust fumes in Australia's V8 Supercars can make drivers unwell on street tracks.


I don't think he'd pass the wind tunnel aero tests.......


Lol agreed, where did it all go wrong JP 😀


Pretty sure J-P burned his bridges behind him when he left F1!



Did using KERS in anyway (other than the weight) increase fuel consumption????


I guess if KERS consumed any fuel we would give it another name. KERS is all about electrical Energy gained while braking. I hope James corrects me if i am wrong.


It's harvested from engine braking. But yes the boost is electrical.


The mass isn't an issue due to the 605 kg car limit. Under acceleration the difference would come from any benefit in running different gearing. Otherwise the engine would have to turn over the same number of times for car to complete the same distance. Under braking there could be a saving as the harvesting of energy would benefit being in a higher gear. If the driver is using some throttle under braking then this can lead to a saving.

I understand Michael Schumacher would use the throttle into corners as a form of brake balance adjustment, accelerating to stop the rear brakes locking, thereby being able to run a more rearward brake bias overall, giving a small gain into corners. This presumably exceeded the fuel consumption penalty.


We need more powerfull engines. Those figures you can get on some high performance road cars.

900 hp is a more exciting number for a formula one.


What, more power, whatever next? You'll be suggesting F1 is the pinnacle of motor racing next.


Road cars with 730hp weigh a lot more than 650kg


What's more exciting:

900 bhp to move around 1500kg of Supercar or 755bhp to move 605kg of F1 car?

And what about the revs? Those 900bhp engines won't even come close to the 18K rpm limit of F1 engines (and this is an self-imposed limit; you know they could rev higher if they wanted to).


Amen to that!



Formula One cars use naturally aspirated 2.4 liter V8 engines running on fuel that is actually quite close in composition to road going fuel. I would say that these engines are more than impressive considering that they are producing--based on the Mercedes figure--around 315hp per liter using merely fiddled around with petrol.

The road cars that are producing that much horsepower do it via increased displacement and/or forced induction. For example, Button's Bugatti Veyron is powered by quad turbocharged, 8.0 liter, 16 cylinder engine that generates about 1000hp--that's 125hp per liter. Road cars have to be built this way to get that kind of power because they are expected to last more than a few thousand miles.


Sorry, no excitement allowed!

But we'll soon be treated to the 'excitement' of gas mileage racing. I cant wait - yaaahooooo!! ;(


Now that Toyota withdrew, the performance difference will be less than 1.9%? So no, engine updates will be required/allowed for 2010?


I'm wondering about that "-Gate" that was promised around the time of the FIA Presidential elections - y'know the one about certain teams running suspect engines. Didn't somebody do acoustic analysis at Monza and come away with some unusual findings or something?


This report seems to put that rumour to rest. Have you heard anything James?


That's what the Merc strip down was about. It overreved to 18,300 over the kerbs but that is normal apparently


Hi James,

I'm interested to know how the other teams had come t know that it was overrevving over the kerbs? Do they have someone positioned at every corner with some high quality audio gear??

Actually, if you want another idea for a blog, perhaps you could do one on the types of technology/systems that the teams use to spy on each other. They certainly seem to use some elaborate ways of getting data on each others cars/engines.


Maybe Toyota might get a bidder for there blue prints now we know the rest of the car is ctually good.


Toyota's wildly fluctuating form throughout the season suggests that there was more to its disappointing year than an engine that was 3/10ths off the pace. It's not as if Toyota were only behind at tracks where power was all important - it was off the pace on "chassis" tracks too at various points of the year.

James - great info on the relative power of the engines. What about driveability? Which engine had the edge there? And how much of a difference would that make?

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

James, so it should be even-stevens in terms of pace between the Mercedes and Renault engined cars at the beginning of the race with the Renault engined cars able to stop a couple of laps later?

What's the latest in terms of brake specs permitted for 2010?

Many thanks


Cars are not necessarily going to "stop" at the same time. That will depend on how quickly each car and driver wears their tyres. Drivers like Jenson should benefit from the the fact that their driving style is smooth.


Mike, they're all going to "stop" at the same time for fuel, hopefully at the end of the race, theres no refueling. They'll only stop for tyres.


Yeah, that's right, it does take away the relevence of when they will stop (ie at the end of the race), but it does mean that cars with the Renault engine should potentially be able to start the race with a few laps less fuel... which would be valuable from a weight saving perspective.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Hi Jeremy, aware of no refueling.

I was thinking more about the relative weights of the cars and tyre wear. If Renault take on less fuel they should probably also be able to make their tyres last for a longer stint.

Regards, Mike.


Its very interesting, but I still find it odd how Mercedes didn't have the most Powerful or reliable engine when they were froze at the end of 2006 and have since jumped to the top? Even more odd is the fact that Renault's engine was known to be the best or second best during 2006 and when it was froze, but even after being allowed to work on it after 2008 to get it up to spec its still only 4th overall? Do you have any insight into why this is James or is just quietly been over looked by the FIA?


Merc anticipated the engine freeze rule and worked hard to get its engine into optimum shape for when the freeze came in. It was a case of good planning. They've also maximised the tiny amount of development allowable


And took on a lot of Cosworth expertise in 2006.


Thanks for this wonderful article!!


If BMW engine was equally good as Mercedes one, then how bad aerodinamically-wise was BMW Sauber chassis? They were nowhere close to the front runners after winter brake...

Same really has to be said about Renault's R29. I read somwhere about Renault's new chalenger R30 that suppose to sport similarly shaped nose as Newey's car had this year. Wonder how many pull-rod rear suspensions we will see in February 2010?


And I remember BMW stating a reason for ditching Williams was that the chassis just wasn't good enough - how the wheel turns...


If there is an engine equalisation programme on at the moment then how do these differences occur?

The Cosworth engine that has a higher BHP isn't exactly equal is?!

So how do the FIA measure the engines to make sure they are equal? It can't be BHP or fuel consumption as those all vary between engines.


FIA has said that equalisation is up to the teams to agree between them this year, which will not happen


So if 18BHP equates to 3/10ths then the Cosworth would have been 33BHP more than Toyota. Over half a second!!!

No wonder Toyota quit!


Interesting article. Pity that BMW is leaving F1 with one of the best engines on the grid. They should have stuck around as a supplier at least. The Renault engine was a surprise... I guess the works team must have really been rubbish to not leverage their efficiency edge. It did win 6 races with Red Bull though. Another interesting point is the inefficiency of the Ferrari unit. This is really going to hurt them next year and their lack of experience building anything other than high revving naturally aspirated petrol engines is going to be a major problem come 2013.


Hi James,

I've read somewhere that the Ferrari was using more fuel because the overall aero dynamics of the car weren't very efficient & due to running more wing the engine was being worked a bit harder. Have you heard anything of this?



No, but they certainly got less mileage for the same amount of fuel.


If Cosworth get their reliability sorted out and their fuel economy up to scratch then it is indeed looking like a good season for Williams in 2010 - to go from having the weakest engine to the strongest would take their upper midfield package right to the front and maybe make Rosberg rue his decision to jump ship.

It would also serve to make up for the lack of resources of the new teams. Given that the current regs are in their infancy it would seem an ideal time for private teams to mix it with the bigger teams.

Also, the fact that BMW's engines are as powerful as the Mercedes engines should surely make them an attractive commodity for someone with F1 interests to purchase. This would certainly add weight to the speculation that McLaren are interested in acquiring them. The notion of a completely independent McLaren, alongside Mercedes and Ferrari would only serve to strengthen all three brands in the luxury sportscar / supercar markets.


A quick question for anyone....

With next years regs re: starting with race fuel can the teams spread the weight around the car like ballast by utilising numerous fuel cells (tanks) and manage the weight distribution by transferring the fuel around as the fuel levels drop - like aircraft do - or are they limited to a single fuel cell between the engine and the driver as they are now ?


technical regulation 6.1.1

"The fuel tank must be a single rubber bladder..."

so unfortunately no.


I'm unsure about my english here - can a fuel tank be "a single rubber bladder" and still have compartments? i mean, if it's made of a single piece of rubber...


There are, I'm sure, engineers and lawyers who have pondered over this one, and considering that advantage is measured in 1/1000th of a second, probably came up with the same conclusion. It's interesting to think that the fuel tank must be situated according to a lateral projection (ie viewed from the side) this means it could be low and wide, to keep the changes to CoG to a minimum. If there are internal baffles/compartments, this means less fuel movement in corners = more stability.


No, not with the current regs.

6.1 Fuel tanks :

6.1.1 The fuel tank must be a single rubber bladder conforming to or exceeding the specifications of FIA/FT5-

1999, the fitting of foam within the tank however is not mandatory. A list of approved materials may be

found in the Appendix to these regulations.

6.1.2 All the fuel stored on board the car must be situated between the front face of the engine and the driver's

back when viewed in lateral projection. When establishing the front face of the engine, no parts of the fuel,

oil, water or electrical systems will be considered.


I think multiple fuel cells are not allowed. What they do have, I think, is single fuel cells that have multiple compartmentments for greater fire protection. I'd be surprised if F1 teams didn't already do this idea within one fuel tank, and if they don't its probably because its against the regulations.


So at an average speed of 220km/h - 3/10th of a second equates to 18.33 meters per lap.

Quite significant. Over a 60 lap race you've lost 1 kilometer on the McLaren.


"The result is that Mercedes comes out top, with Toyota at the bottom. "

Kimi's cutting remark about Toyota comes to mind, "It's not cool to drive bad cars".


James, what happens with engine supply to Red Bull should Renault call it a day?

Would the FIA step in and broker a deal with Merc & McLaren or would Red Bull be forced into using Cosworth?

If it turns out RB is forced into using Cosworth and it is a dog, then that would make it very difficult for them to hang onto Vettel in 2011.


I believe that Renault is doing engines whatever happens.


I wonder how they use GPS. They measure the acceleration?


Excellent article James, what happened to the Renault engine reliability issues? Does the additional mileage achieved by the Renault's perhaps reflect more their need to manage the engine reliability?


James, Do you have any insider information where the Honda engine from last year stood in the pecking order as I remember Jenson & Rubens complaining about power and drivability.

I always got the impression at the top end the Honda engines were good, but lower down the power curve they struggled, I remember in the V10 days in 2004 with Alonso vs Button in Germany where the Renault had much better lower end grunt.

Also just to say your book on Schumacher is by far the best out their - as a fan it really intrigued me to read about his story.


James, ain't got much to say, but great insight as usual.


I doubt Cosworth will produce a top class engine.


Well, I personally don't believe that, with the information you get from certain teams (f.i. Ferrari), that exact power numbers can be retrieved. There are an incredible amount of parameters to go by and almost all of them are non public. The only way to go: fit all different engines in exact the same chassis/body.

A little less efficient aero package and an engine a bit more tweaked to the max revs end of the scale gives more or less the same result as a car with a better aero package but with an engine that has a little bit less power.

The only difference is that the less efficient aero car is asking more energy thus burning more fuel. Not because the engine is less efficient but due to the aerodynamics.

Revs and torque make power. Since the rev limit in F1, the max power from a unit is more or less predictable (but not exact) due to the fact that differences in torque between a bad and a good engine is only very minimal.

With such small differences, the available power band and fuel efficiency become more important than sheer power.

I'm sure that the mercedes engine of this seasons F1 was a very good one, BMW's is for sure more a question mark.

In the last 15 years I have read many, many articles of AM&S. In the end of their stories, the german products are always best. No exception here.


Don't forget that the Mercedes engine is actually designed and built in England by Ilmor, a company now wholly owned by Mercedes (they bought them out in 2001)


Yes but as long as the mercedes logo is proudly present on the engine it doesn't make no difference to the majority of the AM&S readers. Or to the AM&S for that.


I seem to remember Force India squeezing more laps out of their first stint fuel loads than the other merc engined cars at a couple of races, any word on this?


Could it be a drag thing? The Force India, whilst lacking downforce, is a very slippery car, allowing it to be at the top of most speed trap lists throughout the year... I would imagine that this would have a positive effect on fuel consumption at least although I don't think it can outweigh the positives of good aero...


Another great informative article there James! I'm sure you're going to be busy over the festive period, but please keep these coming. I'm sure I'm not the only one that's counting down to the first race of 2010, and we all need our fix!



Good stuff James...!

BMW messed up big time in '09. I blame KERS.

I'm expecting a few of the Cossies to destroy themselves in the first few races... until they re-acclimatise themselves with F1 properly.

Interesting that the Renault was most fuel-efficient in '09 and that will really come into play in 2010.


I'm very curious to see how fuel consumption plays into all this. Somehow, I feel that 15-20 kilos' worth of extra fuel, when the cars are loaded to the brim, would play a bigger role than +/- 10-15 bhp...

Having said that, the all-mighty Merc engine is pretty fuel-efficient, right? In F1 terms anyway... 😉

That, plus watching the drivers having to nurse their new tyres for 1-2 laps after a pit-stop, should change a few things. Call me a hopeless optimist, but I expect to see quite a bit of overtaking at Monaco in 2010!


What use is the BMW's engine power if it keeps blowing up!

Although, it is interesting though that the two german manufacturers both have/had anecdotally, the most powerful motors.


And it is interesting because it is an article from a german magazine... in which I never ever saw a car comparison test lost by a german car maker.

And I've been reading it for 15 years.


James, how serious do you think VW are about their recent announcement that they are considering entering F1 as an engine supplier?


so, power;






Fuel efficiency;







James, I wish you'd link to other peoples' sites especially when discussing their stories. Yours is a very anti-web approach.

Anyway, here's the original article - http://www.auto-motor-und-sport.de/formel-1/einheitsmotor-cosworth-erhaelt-den-zuschlag-915798.html


Actually, that links to an article from December last year and it talks about Cosworth winning the tender to supply the cheap engine package


Is there an English version of this site?

Auto Motor und Sport’s website


One of the more interesting things to know, would be the difference in torque curves between all of the engines. Low-end torque, and a smooth torque progression with a wide maximum flat is just as important as overall power.


Hi can someone please shed light on wether Cosworth have 770bhp at the fly wheel. As an engine pushing power through a bench is a world away from the reality of it going through the flywheel.

And one final question. Do you think its fair that Cosworth have been allowed to develop for 2010 and the others not?


Hi James,

Its clear to see that the FIA are trying to get the racing back on track, but what are the over taking group doing to spice things up for next year?

Heavy cars, and a difficult aero set-ups affected this years over taking, so it may well be worse next year!



"The Renault won out this year on fuel efficiency, however, which was pretty important this year and will be much more important next year with no refuellling. Compared to the Mercedes, the Renault would go four laps longer on a full tank of fuel, which is worth about 3/10ths of a second per lap next year."

OK, first thing's first: Companies that specialise in remapping road petrol engines claim that doing so to increase the BHP also increases MPG, because you don't have to drive the car as 'hard' to achieve a given speed.

I can accept this. Doesn't this therefore mean that, the regulations being as tight as they are with regards to bore, stroke, capacity, configuration, fixed vee angle etc. etc (indeed, the phrase "all things being equal" applies pretty well here!) that as the Mercedes produces the most power, it is the most efficient engine? And that the Renault ran longer because it had a bigger tank? or have I got this wrapped around my neck as usual?

Basically, what's the relationship between power and MPG, surely the most power from a given capacity is therefore the most fuel efficient?


This is why I read your blog James - two very interesting titbits that I hadn't read elsewhere:

"FIA has said that equalisation is up to the teams to agree between them this year, which will not happen."

Do you mean it won't happen in terms of they won't be able to agree so will go back to the FIA or it won't happen and we will have unequal engines? Please don't suggest we'll have more infighting as one team complains they have stuck to the rules more than another. Cue stewards, appeals, and FIA hearings...

"That’s what the Merc strip down was about. It overreved to 18,300 over the kerbs but that is normal apparently"

I'm not that technically minded, but could this be why the McLarens and Brawns were so good on the curbs? I would have thought this is more about chassis balance than anything, but can someone speculate if this temporary overrev would have "fired" these cars out of the corners better? Or am I miles out...?


No, it's when the wheels lift off the ground and spin free, the revs went to 18,300, no advantage to it.

Paige Michael-Shetley

If Renault has that big of a fuel efficiency advantage, then we can expect a cakewalk to the WDC and WCC for Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, respectively. Having a .3 of a second weight advantage is going to be extremely difficult for any designer to overcome fundamentally, especially if arguably the best in the business- Newey- is the one with the advantage. With that said, I have doubts about the fuel efficiency figures from the report, as there were some occasions on which the Merc engine seemed to go just as long on similar fuel loads. (Hungary being one such occasion, when Hamilton went a lap longer than Webber on the first stint despite having a lighter car at the start.)

I'm not at all surprised that the BMW is rated so high on power output in the report. I really think the idea of McLaren purchasing BMW's engine program would have been a great one for them.


Hi. Great Site.

In view of the seeming demise of KERS and F1's supposed interest in being greener. Is there anything in F1 rules to stop the teams electrically spliting water and burning the Hydrogen and Oxygen gas produced to improve power/MPG? Always seemed a better bet than KERs to me!


Interesting idea, not heard that one before. Anyone have any views on that?


if it made sense in terms of energy balance to split water to make hydrogen and oxygen, and then use this hydrogen to burn with the oxygen to make more energy than you needed in the first place, then you've solved the problem of perpetual motion...!


"Red Bull is in limbo at the moment, waiting to see whether Renault, on whose engine its 2010 car is designed, will continue in F1. A decision is expected at the end of the year."

I don't understand why all manufacturers are leaving and do not leave the engine behind. OK, there are still costs involved but at least most of these costs, if not all, can be recover if they sell the engines to private teams.

In the last 12 months or so Formula 1 lost Honda, BMW, Toyota and now maybe Renault engines. We are left with Ferrari, Mercedes, Cosworth and maybe Renault. Three, maximum four engines for 14 teams!!!


Have done a couple of my own comparisons this season and I am not so sure over the Renault being more economical than the Mercedes. Bearing in mind that the Mercedes is using energy in charging KERS, would that not balance out slightly?


Hello James,

Thank you so much for this post - I have just worked out the fuel efficiency of the F1 Engines in 2009 on my blog and the performance information was a real help!

Merry Christmas to you and enjoy the time with friends and family!


thanks for post, formula 1 engines are at the front of technology for internal combustion engines today. They are 2.4 liter V8 engines, with an operating range of 2000-20000 RPM. Like most car engines they have pistons connected via connecting rods to a crankshaft, they have a transmission and a clutch, as well as cam shafts and valves. Current F1 engines are naturally aspirated, and are not turbocharged. In order to produce 900hp, these engines must be capable of revving very high, 20,000 revolutions per minute to be exact. To do this these engines can not use conventional valve springs, but instead used compressed gas to return the valve to the closed position. Apart from that, and a few differences in some part locations such as the clutch, an F1 engine works just the same as any car engine.


Excellent, informative site.

I am particularly interested in the engineering side of f1 and would love to know more information about engine specs. I understand that much of this info. is guarded more closely than a nubile daughter but much of it must be common knowledge.

You've told us about the pneumatic nature of the engines top-end and the fact that they are built to rev up to 20,000 rpm but how, exactly, is this achieved? Is it through special materials which are strong and light? Is it through particularly high compression ratios? Is there a great difference in cam-timing compared to a normal dohc v8 engine?

An average V8 engine like the Rover (Buick) unit or even Ford V8 engines such as in Mustangs, F150s and the like only rev to a third of this amount. That is a great difference!

If F1 changes to 1.6 straight 4 turbo engines, what sort of spec are these proposed to be....

compression ratio, boost, cam-timing etc.

Thankyou, mate!


There is enormous force and pressure combined with energy that

makes up a tsunami. Each car has been given a careful polish to look and

sound authentic. The rigors of being a proficient race driver are generally also included

(such as having to deal with a car's tire condition and fuel level).

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