New engines increase race strategy risks – Taffin

2014 F1 season

Renault Energy F1, rear, 2014Formula One teams are at much greater risk of getting their race strategies wrong under the new engine regulations, according to Renault Sport F1’s head of track operations Remi Taffin.

While the previous engines were a known quantity it will be much harder for teams to maximise the new power units.

“With the V8 we decided on a strategy and knew at the end of the race we would be within 1% of the optimum,” said Taffin. “Next year we could have a delta of many tens of seconds if we get things wrong.”

The complexity of the new engines’ electrical and energy recovery systems will give teams much more to do at each race weekend. Taffin expects pre-race workloads will double compared to last year.

Renault have expanded their operations in order to meet the new challenge. “We have created an operations room to follow running in real time, which is a significant evolution over previous years when all data collection was monitored solely at the track,” said Taffin.

“Additionally we will have greater support from the factory to analyse data post-sessions as we will repatriate information from the track to the factory more often. This quantity of analysis means we will use the dynos at Viry more often for ??live? simulations to optimise track performance.

“It?s hard to say exactly, but I expect the dynos will be working up to three times more as there are more parameters to explore. With the V8 we could predict how it would go, and when there was an issue it was much more of a known issue. These units are vastly more complicated.”

Engine limits

Drivers will be limited to five complete power units per year. Each of which are broken down into six major components – engine, motor generator unit-kinetic (MGU-K), motor generator unit-heat (MGU-H), energy store, turbocharger and control electronics – which can be interchanged. Penalties will be incurred if further components are used.

Renault Energy F1 components, 2014

Taffin says engineers would prefer not to swap between different components if possible. “In an ideal world we will try to do as per last year, that is, we change everything together,” he explained.

“The life of each part is designed to be roughly similar so we will try to keep the system as a whole, so changing the turbocharger, [Energy Recovery System] and battery at same time.

“However there is also a system where you can change different elements if you need to. While we would not necessarily seek to run different life combinations, it does enable us to tailor the Power Unit to the specificities of each circuit should we need to.

“For example, we could run a new internal combustion engine at Monza with an old battery to get more power, or we could use a new battery at Monaco and an old engine as the sensitivity to electrical power will be higher and the need for outright speed a lot less.

“Keeping pace with it all seems difficult but I do not expect we will see too many people using the modular system in real life.”

Reliability worries

Renault Energy F1 installation, 2014Failures of the energy recovery systems are an obvious concern, particularly as they are now so powerful. KERS failures have been commonplace in recent seasons and typically disadvantaged drivers by a few tenths of a second per lap.

But its 2014 equivalent, the MGU-K, contributes much more of the car’s total power. A driver’s car would be “effectively uncompetitive” if one were to fail, according to Renault.

Producing a reliable MGU-K is also going to be more difficult as its heat output is much greater than that of KERS. Renault estimate it to be three times higher, putting greater demands on cooling.

The characteristics of F1’s tracks will also affect the engines in different ways, as Taffin explained.

“In the past we always said that Brazil was relatively low impact as we could use engine on the third race of its life due to the low atmospheric pressure that placed less stress on the internals. However since the turbo greatly increases ambient pressure inside the engine, the internal stresses are always the same and the amount of oxygen in the air becomes largely irrelevant.

“Similarly, in Malaysia we could always count on the humidity to limit the effect of the long straights but now there will be no power loss due to the lack of oxygen in air as we are mastering the quantity of air in the engine at all times.”

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27 comments on New engines increase race strategy risks – Taffin

  1. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 22nd January 2014, 13:53

    Am I seeing things or does the air intake in those pictures appear to be heading off to the left?

    • joetoml1n (@joetoml1n) said on 22nd January 2014, 14:10

      The bit going off to the left is where the air comes from the inter cooler I believe.. The air intake (ie from the roll hoop) will connect to to the turbo, where it will be pressurised, cooled as it travels through the intercooler, and then into the engine (through the intake you mentioned).

  2. Baldry00 (@baldry00) said on 22nd January 2014, 13:57

    I have to say the new engines at least look like awesome pieces of machinery…. That massive turbo on the back just makes it look like a rocket engine!!

  3. joetoml1n (@joetoml1n) said on 22nd January 2014, 13:59

    “Failures of the energy recovery systems are an obvious concern, particularly as they are now so powerful. KERS failures have been commonplace in recent seasons and typically disadvantaged drivers by a few tenths of a second per lap.
    But its 2014 equivalent, the MGU-K, contributes much more of the car’s total power. A driver’s car would be “effectively uncompetitive” if one were to fail, according to Renault.”

    This is the big worry for me, rather than the running out of fuel concerns.. Obviously, these are the best engineers in the world. Even in the first race of the season, I’m sure the ERS failure rate will be substantially better than we’ve seen in recent years with KERS. The thing is though, when driving without KERS it is possible to still be competitive for the most part, driving without ERS will render the car largely useless..

  4. F 1 Racing should have no such limitations that will force the drivers to slow down to manage tires, fuel and other trivial things. F 1 audience want to watch full throttle racing not Race car management !

    • Paul A (@paul-a) said on 22nd January 2014, 14:56

      And they had better improve radio reliability. The messages on delta-ERS, delta-fuel, delta-tyres, delta-cooling will be unmanageable in the driver’s brain. Does anyone have any idea how much more complicated the steering wheels will become?

      • joetoml1n (@joetoml1n) said on 22nd January 2014, 15:05

        Steering wheels will probably be very similar.. They will loose some buttons/dials (ie KERS, which will be mapped into the engine instead of a push button), retain some (ie ERS harvest settings), but also potentially gain one or two (ie starter motor).

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 22nd January 2014, 15:48

      +1 Mark, let the mechanics attend to the mechanicals and the drivers attend to the driving.

    • Speak for yourself, not all the F1 audience

    • And yet presumably you, like many fans, enthuse about the quality of the racing in the 1980’s when drivers were normally forced to drive below their maximum speed because they were restricted on fuel use (think about how often Brundle describes the racing of the 1980’s as “economy runs”).

  5. Bleeps_and_Tweaks (@bleeps_and_tweaks) said on 22nd January 2014, 15:18

    Really interesting piece as there a couple of new bits of information in here that the bog standard ‘F1 is changing’ articles are not including. Also the photo of the component parts of the engine is useful.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 22nd January 2014, 15:45

      Useful yes, accurate ? hmmmm. Really surprised to see the MGU-K or motogen looking like a bog standard bolt-on starter-motor, I really expected it to be incorporated into the flywheel area as in modern hybrid roadcar units, perhaps they forsee a need to remove/replace regularly.

      Also, if as I expect, that is the intercooler/airbox unit in the V then it appears that the exhaust manifolds are enclosed in what must be silicon-rubber which I expect must be moulded over an insulating material in order to deliver maximum thermal efficiency to the turbo, should make for a lot of excitement in the event of a cracked pipe.

      • zenman1 (@zenman1) said on 22nd January 2014, 20:49

        Think it is so they can interchange the 5 components on to other basic engines units to juggle them to make the 5 complete units last a season.

      • mr ROSSI (@mr-rossi) said on 23rd January 2014, 17:21

        HiHoHum ! f1 cars dont have flywheels,just a clutch basket.Also the kers (mgu-k) as its known now,is bolted to the front of the engine, or side – and geared to the crank. Hope i dont sound condascending ! get what your saying about the exhausts,its puzzling me,just looks like 1 big collector box. Or are renault hiding something.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 23rd January 2014, 18:17

          @mr-rossi, yep, got that but thought they likely would incorporate the gen/motor rotor directly on the crank between the ICE and gearbox rather than build a seperate case and geartrain, and no you don’t sound condascending at all, all clues and info greatfully accepted.

          • mr ROSSI (@mr-rossi) said on 23rd January 2014, 23:05

            Its late,not quite sure what ICE is ! As far as my understanding goes,packaging/simplicity would be the reason i guess. To mount an mgu-k in between eng/g,box would require a toothed flywheel/power take off point of some sort,have a look at the picture of the rear of the mercedes power unit and imagine (with the gearbox attached ) where all the bits n bobs would go. Easier to fit it at the front.

          • mr ROSSI (@mr-rossi) said on 23rd January 2014, 23:08

            ahhhh, Internal Combustion Engine !!! lol

  6. If Strategy is going to be lot more Important then i expect teams to take risks on stopping more than once just to have More time to have the from the Tires in Lift and GO Fuel Management in the tracks where Overtaking is Possible and easy. With the added 8th gear it will avoid the Hitting Limiter. (Only if the Tires are completely Durable as Pirelli said earlier)

    • Palle (@palle) said on 22nd January 2014, 22:37

      Why should an 8th gear prevent the engine from hitting the Limiter? The drive train is totally different, so the compromise between managing the ratios to stay within the optimum rpm range and have enough top speed probably stays the same more or less I think.

  7. TMF (@tmf42) said on 22nd January 2014, 16:54

    I think 2014 will be a messy season – like a 2012 (first half) all the way thru. Which will make for a good championship but I don’t expect close racing on track.

  8. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 22nd January 2014, 19:02

    Thanks for the wealth of in depth articles today @keithcollantine (and every day). It is becoming more clear all the time that 2014 will be a very technical season as well as the new challenges for drivers. For the drivers the power band being more low end could reward some driver’s styles more than others. Even very talented drivers may be caught out at some point during this season. The power changes and reduced aero may benefit some and hurt others.

    The complexity of the new engines’ electrical and energy recovery systems will give teams much more to do at each race weekend. Taffin expects pre-race workloads will double compared to last year.

    So much for lower costs. But more immediately, increased opportunities for teams to get things right or wrong technically that will affect race performance.

    Strategies will likely vary widely during races creating great unpredictability. Teams will likely employ strategies to be conservative and hold position and then run hard to the finish. Or, run hard at the start, then conserve at the end while trying to maintain position. Or, anywhere in between those strategies.

    The technical aspects and strategy possibilities are mind boggling. Which team will be best able to manage the new aero regs, ERS usage, fuel conservation, reliability, cooling, let alone tires, etc at any given race or from one race to the next? Should be interesting.

  9. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 22nd January 2014, 19:22

    Won’t the engine suppliers be developing these systems like mad? Making them lighter, more reliable, powerful or efficient and able to run hotter. So, the motor generator, battery or turbo a driver uses at the end of a season will be a very different spec from his first one.

    And if they do, is there a pecking order – for example Mercedes get the trick parts first, then Force India or maybe Williams as the new customer – and finally McLaren, who are in the doghouse because they’re off to Honda…

  10. Palle (@palle) said on 22nd January 2014, 22:41

    Its getting more and more difficult to wait for march 14-16;-)

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