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F1 Turbo & Car Industry

With Forced induction the most relevant technology to break through in the car industry these past couple of years, much pressure has been placed on Formula 1’s shoulders to once again become relevant to consumers, to pioneer latest advancements that can be used in the current Motoring world – Are the 2014 Turbo regulations that step forward?
Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 30th, 2012 (F1plus / James Parker).- Forced Induction and Formula 1, it is not necessarily the most loved combination amongst fans that have graced the sport throughout the past 60 odd years. Many fans of the early 90’s will declare their unending love for the glorious whail of the Ferrari V12’s, Flocks of the Tifosi would line the fences of Monza to hear the screaming V12 bounce off the rev limiter, the glorious downshifts sparking the hairs on the back of your neck to jump up – the engine really sounding like God was trying to escape out the back of the car.

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But to say the Turbo era of the glorious 80’s has been less important than others would be totally misplaced. It sparked a huge technological battle between the power houses of the F1 paddock, giving way to the most powerful and scary Formula 1 cars in the history of the sport developing upwards of 1400hp. During the 80’s forced induction was at the forefront of everything motorsport with Touring Cars and the famous Group B rally cars producing some of the best action ever witnessed around the world. It was this madness in Motorsport that allowed automotive companies around the world to take advantage of the advancement in technology and apply it to the latest cars on the market.

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In Formula 1 the heavyweight names of Porsche, Ferrari and BMW all vied for top spot throwing huge budgets at perfecting the art of the “ultimate” turbo engine. It was this that sparked the turbo charging revolution in the supercar industry with both Porsche and Ferrari unleashing tarmac shredding icons in the F40 and 959.

We are now 25 years on from the truely terrifying era of Turbo F1 and come the 2014 season we will once again welcome them back to the iconic circuits of Spa, Monza and Silverstone; Only this time as different beasts. Back in the 80’s it was the advancements in technology on the race tracks that paved the way for the car industry, but it seems come 2014 it will be the car industry influencing the Motorsport world.

In the current climate it is no secret that everyone in the motoring world is being affected by the “green revolution” as it was with hybrid and electric technology jumping to the forefront of the motor industry. It is through this that has forced changes on to the race track with the heavyweights of the sport having to adapt their programs. GT Racing is probably the closet relation bar touring cars to the road cars we drive today and huge steps have been taken there to improve the efficiency of engines. It is here we saw Porsche pioneered their own KERS system on the GT3 – R Hybrid which was provided by the Williams F1 team, utilising a FlyWheel to produce an extra 102hp to the front wheels. The car had big success in VLN (German Endurance Championship) and also won the only event it entered in the ALMS at Monterrey.

Then we had the Toyota Hybrid Program at Le Mans this year that proved to be hugely popular with the TS030 car challenging for the top 3 up until both cars had to retire – one being that hugely scary crash with Anthony Davidson flipping into the tyres at the Mulsanne corner.

But with hybrid technology and fuel efficiency at the forefront of importance of Motorsport what will the 2014 Turbo’s bring to Formula 1 to conform with these views, and how can they relate back to road car technology?

Well first we need to understand the core regulations that will be in effect when the 2014 season kicks off, engine capacity will be reduced to 1.5 litres and cars will be reduced to V6 engines with one singular turbocharger. A rev limit of 15,000rpm will be enforced on all cars like we see in the current 18,000 rpm rev limit on the 2.4L V8’s.

Unlike the 80’s era the turbo engines power will not be determined by boost pressure but will be managed by fuel flow, this means the FIA can achieve that dream figure of 750hp that the current V8 engines are using in 2012 spec. This will limit the mixture ratio of fuel to air when combustion is achieved therefore the amount of power available to drivers. Infact the fuel flow becomes linear once 10,500 rpm has been achieved. This will give all engineers a major headache to how they can unlock a higher peak power between 10,500 rpm and 15,000 rpm when indeed that fuel flow becomes linear.

For the first time in F1 history direct injection will be featured on all F1 engines on the grid which will be capped to 500 bar, this can see them becoming 35% more efficient than the current units with the fuel being hugely pressurised and then directly sprayed into the chamber of the cylinder.

The KERS system’s currently used on the 2012 season spec cars will become much more important on the new regulation cars. The energy recovery systems will be set to double in effectiveness giving upwards of 120kW of boost to the rear wheels. Not only will hybrid technology be used to produce extra power to the drivers as seen this season, a motor generator will be also attached to the turbo shaft within the engine, in order to spool up the compressor connected to the turbo, this will in turn eradicate the famous excess turbo lag. Excess energy from the turbo can then also be used in the ERS (energy recovery system).

All this means that Formula 1 in 2014 will be set to become hugely more efficient with engines using far less fuel during a race due to the advancements in Direct Injection, that in turn will allow emissions to be far more strictly controlled than with the current regulations.

Keeping up with the “green philosophy” F1 will continue to use KERS in order to recover lost energy in the braking phase, which means as a whole F1 is doing its best to eradicate the image of harming the environment.

So how can this be related back to the motor industry as so many people have called for it to do?

Well all the current heavyweights in the car Industry have been utilising smaller capacity turbo engines in new models for as couple of years now. AMG – Mercedes’ tuning division have now abandoned their V12 program to focus on smaller twin turbo V8’s, as have BMW with the new M5 featuring forced induction over N/A. Then you look to current common rail engines that are utilised in the smaller cars such as the VW Golf, Skoda Fabia and the Audi A3 all featuring 2 litre turbo engines.

With budget caps in place and the interest in turbo engines escalating throughout Formula 1, many manufacturers such as VW, Porsche and Audi have all shown interest in becoming engine suppliers in Formula 1 based on the new regulations. A relevance is there in the modern day motor industry that did not exist beforehand with the 2.4L V8’s.

The Classic V6 turbo engine (Honda) from the 80s.

With technologies such as KERS and hybrid technology being implemented in to modern day cars many manufacturers see this as an opportunity to take advantage of, to take the philosophies learned from the new 1.5 Litre V6’s and apply them to the next generation of forced induction engines for road cars.

All is not lost for the F1 purist however, by no means will these new engine regulations appear “soft” with cars that are not fast nor produce a great sound, anyone who has heard footage on Youtube of turbo engines from the 80’s in F1, will know that they produced a raw mechanical bellow that is just as addictive than the screaming V12 and V10’s.

Formula 1 has to adapt to the changes in the Motor Industry in order for people to relate, yes it has to be the pinnacle of Motorsport, however all important technologies such as active suspension, TCS and ABS were all pioneered extensively in Formula 1 before it hit mass markets. With Forced induction the new technology to be pushed extensively by road car manufacturers it is up to Formula 1 to pioneer advancements in order to stay relevant; something it looks set to do come 2014.

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