Honda deploys tokens and has the most powerful turbo in F1

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We are about to enter a phase of the season where the F1 engine manufacturers begin considering changing the basic architecture of their engines to deliver an improved power unit.

Speculation has been recently mounting that Mercedes was to deploy some development tokens for the coming race in Canada.

Lotus CEO Matthew Carter muddied the waters last week when he told SKY he thought Mercedes were about to deploy some of the remaining development tokens for the Canadian GP: “Mercedes are bringing an upgrade to the engine as well, so we have that to look forward to.

“It is a new engine and an upgrade as well. I think they may have [used tokens], we definitely have an upgraded engine.”

TJ13 can report, this is not the case. Maybe Carter was bluffing under instruction.

In fact Mercedes was targeting Canada to be the first change of engines for Nico and Lewis. Of course with just two more changes allowed this year for each driver, Mercedes clearly believes the current design and architecture is quick enough to see them through possibly as far into the season as the summer break.

Also, Mercedes has less development tokens to play with than the other three manufacturers having operated on the original basis that the engines would be homologated for 2015.

Jonathan Noble of Motorsport.com recently reported that neither Ferrari nor Honda were planning any imminent engine upgrades. However, the FIA have confirmed both teams have informed them of the changes they have made to their 2015 starting specifications.

Honda is believed to have the highest revving turbo of all the F1 power trains. It spools at the maximum allowed 125,000 rpm, whilst Mercedes is believed to be running at 100,000 rpm.

The quicker the Turbo spools, the more power is provided particularly at low ICE revolutions. Clearly Honda are playing ball with the FIA#s original intentions that the focus for the new power units be away from the ICE and towards the lesser developed technologies.

One solution to some of Honda’s reliability problems would be to include a new design that revs the turbo more slowly – to improve reliability. However the Japanese manufacturer is refusing to do this and their development is focused around the turbine and the compressor.

The aim is to deliver more power and the two tokens Honda will deploy are estimated to deliver another 10 BHP.

That said, the RA615 H problems have not been due to a lack of power, if anything the engine has been running capped to improve reliability.

However, Honda got a free change of piston design (under safety and cost exemptions) for the Barcelona test, and so some of their reliability issues have now improved.

Canada, Austria and Silverstone are all circuits that required a lot of grunt, and so we should look for McLaren-Honda doing well again in qualifying – and who knows, even better in the race?

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30 responses to “Honda deploys tokens and has the most powerful turbo in F1

  1. I guess that explains a lot of the MGU-H failures then. If the turbo’s running faster it’s going to be producing a fair bit more heat. If they can get on top of the cooling they might have decent PU in there. Wishful/hopeful thinking mainly on my part though!

    • Not necesarily, the MGUH actually should be cooler if you turn faster. Asuming constant power, when turning faster the torque is smaller. Electric motor’s torque is proportional to the current, losses with current squared (more or less). So when going at higher speed for the same power, the electrical losses should drop in (100/125)^2. You do have bearing and aero losses going up, but certainly not quite as much as to compensate the gain in electrical losses. Imho once you break a turbo, you break everything connected to it directly and I haven’t seen more MGUH falures than Turbo failures; the blame can lay whith either one (or both)

  2. “The quicker the Turbo spools, the more power is provided particularly at low ICE revolutions.”
    The above assertion is quite incomplete, how come turbo RPM is related to anything? One needs to consider impller type, compressor, geometry, at the very least diameter of the wheel. Also since the turbo is connected to the MGUH, the RPM of the turbo is completely decoupled from engine RPM (you can run at 125kRPM Turbo when off-throttle if the MGUH is in motor mode, or then again you can choose not to). It is quite a leap to say that because Mercedes’ Turbo has a top speed of 100k and Honda has 125k, that Honda’s turbo is more powerful (at any RPM of the Turbo or ICE)

    A TDCi Fiesta turns the turbo at 200-250kRPM…

    I don’t wanna lecture, I’d just disapointed of the content, the title is optimistic

    • Rather than lecture why not write a good article about it. There’s more than a few folk around who appreciate a good technical article, pretty sure if you submit it it would be published. I would certainly be interested.

      • I’m affraid I don’t have a “plot” for an article just now, but I’m sure tempted by the offer. Let’s see how it goes with postings, I need to get a feel for the public

    • Evening Drago, I have held a sneaky suspicion that the Honda turbo was doing something different to the other teams,if you listen when it stops there is a very distinctive sound which to me says variable veins and something like a duplicater gear to increase speed without falling foul of the regs, of cause all that’s pure speculation as I haven’t seen the specs but something is causing excess heat and spool failure. It would also account for some of the rasp when under load..any thoughts anyone?

      • @oddball re overspeed and variable geometry.
        5.9 Variable geometry systems :
        5.9.1 With the exception of devices needed for control of pressure charging systems, variable geometry exhaust systems are not permitted. No form of variable geometry turbine (VGT) or variable nozzle turbine (VNT) or any device to adjust the gas throat section at the inlet to the turbine wheel is permitted. FIA©
        Sorry not allowed.

        5.2.4 The MGU-H must be solely mechanically linked to the exhaust turbine of a pressure charging system. This mechanical link must be of fixed speed ratio to the exhaust turbine and may be clutched. The rotational speed of the MGU-H may not exceed 125,000rpm. FIA© Again banned.

      • There are those that think it’s a different kind of impeller on the turbo. Iain:R8’s comment in on the spot, I don’t think you can make anything variable on the turbo. Maybe on the compressor side?

    • @drago

      Even more complex than your explanation. At least one manufacturer is using the turbo for engine control. I would also add that there is a need to keep the turbo spooled up because it is directly connected to the MGU-H and this is considered to be the area where gains can be made by keeping it in the optimum generating window.

      • I was under the impression that if the tubo is held up to speed on an upshift, the ICE de-revs. At the low revs you don’t want to have very high turbo pressure (or more correctly compressor pressure) because the engine runs lean and it can knock a lot. On an engine like the Impreza’s WRX one can add a blowoff valve that besides a cool sound allows to lower the pressure in the chamber and remove all knock (thus advance reduction and loss of performance). Still, just hearing those motors, they don’t seem to have that sort of valve, which leads me to think turbos don’t spin at constant speed, be that 125 or 100k.
        About the MGUH, it is an electric motor so it shouldn’t prefer running at any particular speed. Sure it probably has an optimum efficiency window, but it shouldn’t matter much; maybe the control algotithms are more robust in a tight window, considering the speed. For the MGU the higher it goes the less losses it should have, but can it be made reliable? Obviously if Honda turns it at 125kRPM the answer is maybe they can’t.

        • @drago

          Of course it’s all speculation from everybody!! Though some things that are basic, as you pointed out in your first post. But Remi Taffin did state in 2014, that they are using the Turbo/MGU-H as an ‘engine control’. For me, the most important thing, is to remember that the PU operates as a complete interactive system. The Taffin article (quickly removed from where I saw it) showed a very complex mix of ICE and MGU-K usage in different combinations at various parts of the circuit. My point about the MGU-H/Turbo operating window, is about the whole unit. My ‘guess’, would be that they are using something like an axial flow turbine and double sided compressor, so the unit is operating at much higher speed than a radial single sided for any given engine RPM. Higher up the U/co curve so more efficient.

    • I was going to make the same comment, but you beat me to it, and wrote it better.

  3. Ferrari dropped three tokens too. Any word on what that increase in performance will do?

    • Nothing for Kimi probably. He’ll be asking for the old one after one free practice 😂

  4. I am curious. If an engine manufacturer, such as Mercedes for example, feel they don’t need to use all their tokens, because they can beat the opposition with what they already have, can they carry any unused tokens over to next year?

    • No, any unspent tokens can’t be used next season. This is why Mercedes are playing the waiting game, as their development path meant they were effectively going to chuck the 7 tokens away when they Homologated on the 28th Feb 2015.

      Ferrari are an interesting one, as I believe they’ll introduce variable inlets with their first token spend (3) which they’d have undoubtedly have done IF they’d needed to homologate. The changes they made pre-season were significant in terms of outright performance, especially in rectifying issues with 14’s unit. VI’s were just another distraction that could have muddied their understanding on their TC/MGU-H improvements, so they postponed them when the in-season token spend went through.

      In terms of Honda they clearly have an issue further up the rev range, it was even apparent in Monaco if you replay the onboard. (only pulling 6th along the pit straight, rather than 7th like everyone else). It suggests to me that they have calculated something incorrectly and their 2 token spend is a rectification of such. Whether they have got their turbo design right (remember they’re using a relatively small compressor that fits between the V) (Compressor = 2 Tokens / Turbine = 2 Tokens), they have an issue with the MGU-H not providing enough assitance to the Turbo (2 tokens), the MGU-K transmission was poorly designed (2 tokens) and not supporting the ICE in the right way or they simply didn’t have the fueling capacity right (perhaps with Mobil1 not providing the right data either, one of the reasons they were so far off Merc in 2014) (fuel injection system = 2 tokens) something wasn’t right from the get go and it smacks of Honda being a little unprepared.

      Draco is right, even if Honda have a turbo that can achieve the 125k rpm whilst others can only attain 100k it helps them little if the size of the turbo prevents them from achieving the same vMax. A turbo that can achieve better spool times is of course a coup but that’s why it is important to have a similarly efficient MGU-H, providing the same electrical support (providing you can make the energy in the first place.

      In any case lets hope the FIA stay true to their word and the relevant documents pertaining to token spend are made public on their website in the coming days.

      • @SomersF1 last year when I noticed Mercedes replacing MGU-K drivelines in every single engine I contacted them and they confirmed that it was indeed a safety and reliability upgrade then seemed surprised that I thought it was a big deal. Said it happened all the time. This past week Cyril Abitepoul said in Omni Corse that it was around 50 reliability changes a year, a number that no doubt has gone up with the addition of Honda, a fact Vortex Motio put me onto.

        It’s irritating enough that a lot of Whiting’s Technical Directives get leaked to the press without ever making their way to the FIA site but if FIA are not going to log safety and reliability changes openly as well as tokens it just makes a mockery of the whole process.

        • And Abiteboul may only know of the number of requests referred to the peer group review process.

          This is why Charlie is at least attempting to tighten up this process

        • I remember us talking about Merc’s driveline ‘reliability’ updates last season and just like you I remain skeptical that there wasn’t an advantage being gleaned from the process.

          I’ve asked I don’t know how many people (including Charlie) about the technical directives being put up online, to which I always get the answer “yes that can be done, I’ll see about getting it implemented” it never does… I have to hear about them 3rd hand and what might not seem relevant at the time or to one person usually has another meaning to another..

          The problem is that the processes aren’t transparent because the FIA don’t feel that they need to be and/or be held accountable for anything that they should have been doing and haven’t. I also firmly believe that the FIA don’t want TD’s out in the open as they are simply an intepretation of the regulations and not binding, making them public gives credence to their regulatory value…

          • Couldn’t agree with you more. They may just be interpretations, but the “interpretations” have all sorts of real world consequences for the teams, and if FIA are going to bother with putting all the other docs up during the race weekend, then they certainly ought to put these TD’s up as well, since they will effect how the manufacturers develop the car throughout the season and anything less makes an utter farce of their show of openness and transparency to which they are devoted whenever it serves their interest.
            Like much else in the sport, they probably like to keep certain things in the shadows, and would prefer we don’t know exactly how the sausage gets made but just give them their money and get a nice pat on the head.

          • And 2 seconds after I posted that comment I find this. According to motorsport-total Mercedes haven’t used any of its seven remaining tokens. They will introduce developments on safety, costs and reliability grounds which will result in a stronger power unit.

            The field-leading manufacturer argued that even if the developments will bring them a significant step in performance, they also increase the reliability of its PU. Which is why they ought to list them on FIA site along with token use, IMO. Any ideas what areas they may have targeted with these?

          • @mattpt55

            Wish we could could have free access to TDs, but it won’t happen, definitely possibly maybe. As you know, there are two types, general distribution questions, and the other which involves confidential questions from a team about the legality of their own particular interpretation, or asking a ‘what if’ technical question. It could end up like a Hilary and the emails saga, especially if proprietary technical information was revealed to the world.

      • @somers

        Ferrari are an interesting one, as I believe they’ll introduce variable inlets with their first token spend (3) which they’d have undoubtedly have done IF they’d needed to homologate. The changes they made pre-season were significant in terms of outright performance, especially in rectifying issues with 14’s unit. VI’S WERE JUST ANOTHER DISTRACTION THAT COULD HAVE MUDDIED THEIR UNDERSTANDING ON THEIR TC/MGU-H IMPROVEMENTS, SO THEY POSTPONED THEM WHEN THE IN-SEASON TOKEN SPEND WENT THROUGH.
        Variable inlets are not a bolt on go faster goody like furry dice! They have to be properly integrated into the whole PU design. Nothing to do with muddying their understanding, this is all done in engine design SIM programs and on the dyno.

        In terms of Honda they clearly have an issue further up the rev range, it was even apparent in Monaco if you replay the onboard. (only pulling 6th along the pit straight, rather than 7th like everyone else). It suggests to me that they have calculated something incorrectly and their 2 token spend is a rectification of such. Whether they have got their turbo design right (remember they’re using a relatively small compressor that fits between the V) (Compressor = 2 Tokens / Turbine = 2 Tokens), they have an issue with the MGU-H not providing enough assitance to the Turbo (2 tokens), the MGU-K transmission was poorly designed (2 tokens) ……..

        Consider that this year, gear ratios are fixed for the whole season. Honda have spoken openly, that their engine is miles out of its projected operating envelope at the moment. 7th gear was inappropriate for their engine map

      • Renault seemed to have been implying the opposite at the beginning of the year, when talking about deploying the tokens “strategically” and focusing on 2016 rather than 2015.

        • Cyril once said that they were thinking of making updates to the engine at the end of the year so that they can make updates that are designed to work best with the updates that are going to be introduced for the 2016 design. The updates work on the 2015 engine but are actually designed to work even better with the other updates that are going to be introduced for the 2016 engine. That way they can make a bigger jump in 2016 because they are using 2015 tokens and 2016 tokens for the 2016 engine design

  5. Let’s hope that as well as working on the engine they’ve been concentrating on the reliability of all the other part of the car too!

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