Renault Sport F1 unveiled its new 2014 F1 engine, dubbed the Energy F1, at an event in Paris on Friday.
The timing was rather unfortunate, as the F1 media was on red alert waiting for the announcement of the verdict in the Mercedes Pirelli Tribunal hearing, but the significance of the Renault announcement -particularly the message it contained – is not to be ignored.
Following on from Mercedes, which presented its 2014 engine to selected media at the start of the year, Renault pulled the cover off an engine which – it clearly feels – aligns F1 more with the direction of the road car industry. For this reason it has chosen to align the branding of the F1 unit with its road car range “Energy”, so consumers can draw a line from the humble Clio right through to Formula 1, as it explained at the launch,
“For several years, Renault has used its racing know-how to develop fuel efficient engines for road cars, notably its Energy range,” said the Renault statement. “The objectives are clear: maintain or improve driving pleasure, vitality and acceleration with downsized engines to achieve lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
“Renault has employed these principles in developing the F1 Power Unit, creating a complete, and genuine, circular development process between road and track.
“For these reasons, Renault has named the F1 Power Unit series ‘Energy F1’; clearly illustrating that the F1 Power Unit shares the same DNA as its road-going cousins.”
The launch comes after talks between Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn and F1 promoter Bernie Ecclestone, where Ghosn communicated frustration at the lack of promotional opportunity for his company in the way F1 is set up currently.
As for the technicalities of the engine, it is a 1.6 litre direct injection, single turbo, fitted with ERS, the energy recovery system which replaces the unloved KERS units of today. ERS will increase efficiency by
harvesting energy dissipated as heat in the exhaust or brakes. Currently KERS gives a 60kW boost, ERS will provide double that – 120kW (160bhp).
The 2014 engine has two energy recovery units, one which harvests heat exhaust energy from the turbine shaft and another which recovers energy from the crankshaft under braking.
The engines will rev to 15,000rpm, compared to the 18,000rpm of the current V8s. To hear the new 2014 style engine, listen here: Renault 2014 engine sound
Drivers will be allowed to use five units in 2014, the idea being to drop that to four in the subsequent years, to keep costs under control; the initial cost to teams is high, as the manufacturers pass on the cost of development, this is something that has been subject of extensive discussions behind the scenes to try to find a way to cushion the financial impact to teams.
The new engines are remarkable; the maximum power of the new Power Unit will be greater than the
current V8 F1 engines at the same time as fuel efficiency will be significantly improved. Only 100kg of fuel is allowed per car for the 300km Grand Prix, compared with 150 kg typically today. So the new units will use 35% more fuel efficient.
“From next year, one of greatest challenges in F1 will be to maximize energy efficiency and fuel economy while maintaining the power output and performance expected of F1 cars,” said Renault Sport F1 president Jean Michel Jalinier. “Renault has pioneered this technology in its road car engine range with the Energy series. Naming
the Power Unit Energy F1 creates an unbroken range, from the Clio through to our competition department.”
According to Renault’s Axel Plasse the packaging of the engine into the chassis is more complex than with the current V8s, which could more or less be swapped between teams. This hints at the advantage that works teams will have in the new era, where they are able to work with complete co-operation and transparency with the engine makers to optimise the chassis design; teams like Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull initially, with McLaren and Honda fitting the same mould from 2015 onwards.
“The Power Unit is much more integrated and central to design, for example the turbo overlaps the gearbox so it intrudes into the space where there was a clutch or a suspension part,” said Plasse. “The energy store is also much larger, which has an impact on chassis length, fuel volume and radiator position, amongst other items.”
The new F1 engines will change the balance in F1, instead of tyres being the limiting factor as they are today, it will be the engines. The drivers will have to go as fast as possible, while using only 100kg of fuel for the entire race.
“The question then becomes where to deploy the energy in the lap, ” says Renault’s Naoki Tokunaga. “This season, KERS is used only a few places in a lap. But from 2014 all of the energy, from fuel and battery, is so precious that we will have to identify where deployment of the energy will be beneficial over the whole
lap and saving will be least harmful for lap time – we call it ‘power scheduling’. ”