Renault Energy F1, rear, 2014

New engines increase race strategy risks – Taffin

2014 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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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