Formula 1 racing is changing the rules for next year, there are radical body work changes of no particular interest to any of us outside of the sport, but the engine changes should be interesting to all of us, whether you follow F1 or not. In fact, using the term “engine” isn’t quite right, there are so many additional bits of technology adding power, it’s more accurate to use the term “power train” to be clear about what’s moving those high tech racers around the track. Some of it may eventually make its way into the two wheel world, as well, in one form or another.
It’s a lot more than the engine
The first change is straight forward, 2.4-liter naturally aspirated V8 is out, 1.6-liter V6 turbos are in. OK, so far, so good, but here’s where it begins to get interesting. Energy recovery systems will be used to make the entire package match or exceed the previous engines in power output.
there are now two electrical motors rather than one, driving an energy recovery system that has twice the power and 10 times the capacity of the Kers F1 has used since 2011. This is now referred to simply as Ers – Energy Recovery System, because it is regenerating more than just kinetic energy.
Kers produced 60kw that could be used for 6.7 seconds a lap. From 2014, Ers will have 120kw for just over 30 seconds a lap.
One of those motors is for the KERS which captures brake energy for use on acceleration, but the second motor is on the turbo which can perform multiple duties. Instead of a waste gate to bleed over pressure, the electric motor can be used to capture that energy and limit turbo speed in the process. The energy can be used to charge the battery pack and then used to keep the turbo at speed for instant response, eliminating turbo lag.
Two more rules in the F1 changes, maximum fuel flow rate and maximum amount of fuel used in the race will drive this energy recovery technology in a direction that may apply to the vehicles the rest of us use on public roads.
How does this apply to motorcycles?
Motorcycles have long had exhaust driven turbos and bottles of nitrous for that extra boost of power, but that may be changing as energy recovery systems get better. Instead of a big shot of nitrous, now the energy stored earlier can be released into electric motors to boost acceleration or to bring the turbo up to speed instantly. It may also be completely computer controlled, no button to push for boost, just set a switch for economy or performance and let the CPU do all of the work while you concentrate on riding.
Once you begin to think about power in any form instead of just internal combustion or electricity and when you recover energy formerly dissipated as waste for use all over again, cars, trucks, motorcycles or any other vehicles suddenly become a lot more efficient, powerful and technically interesting all at the same time. Any mechanic, going forward, is going to need a lot more knowledge to keep up and those that stay on top of all of this are going to be in big demand. Fascinating developments.
Link: BBC Sport