You know I hate doing these types of articles, but sometimes a very juicy story appears on my favourite German F1 and Motorport website Auto Motor und Sport, I don’t have time to regurgitate it with my opinion thrown in, so I just translate it for you, the valued TJ13 reader.
In essence, the Renault team have admitted their exact power output levels for 2019 thus far, but more interestingly they admit to a detail whereby their engine output increases when the DRS is activated. Who remembers McLaren’s clever F-Duct?
Renault reaches the 1,000 hp
It’s a magic number: 1,000 horsepower. According to Renault, the four-digit power output has already been reached this season. Ferrari and Mercedes are adamant to announce their performance.
The hybrid formula has reached a magical performance limit. Since this season, the manufacturers have been extracting more than 1,000 hp from their high-performance engines. Four-digit power yields were already available earlier in Formula 1. In the 1980s, BMW even calculated an output of over 1,400 hp for its four-cylinder turbo on the test bench.
The high-performance engines of modern times needed five years to exceed the 1,000 hp. Since 2014, Formula 1 has been powered by a 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged engine. And with two electric motors (MGU-K and MGU-H) that contribute 120 kilowatts (163 hp) to the total output. At the beginning of the hybrid era, the high-tech machines produced around 850 hp. Mercedes was the class leader. Ferrari and Renault were clearly lagging behind.
Renault admits 1,000 hp
In recent years, engine manufacturers have increased continuously. That’s when the question arose: Who will be the first to achieve the magic 1,000 hp? But the manufacturers don’t like to be given performance data. Instead, they keep them secret, even though a four-digit power output gives the highly complicated and small-volume engines a sexy look.
1,000 hp: Every fan can imagine something like this. They themselves know how much their road cars can do. Instead, the manufacturers preferred to announce that their engines achieve a thermal efficiency of over 50 percent. The engine is therefore able to transfer half of the energy from petrol to the road as power. That’s a house number. The old V8 engines achieved an efficiency of over 30 percent. But very few of them can do anything with the efficiency. Ask your neighbor if he knows how his road car is doing.
After all, one manufacturer is now leaving the market. Renault confirms that they have already drawn on 1,000 hp (736 kilowatts) this season. “There are only certain power peaks in the qualification,” says Renault’s engine boss Remi Taffin. “We can’t always call up this performance. It depends on many factors. For example, from the track and the outside temperatures.
Three grams more injection
The V6 turbo alone, with its 1.6-litre displacement, produces around 840 hp. With the power of the electric machines, the system performance is four-digit. Renault’s GPS measurements reveal that Mercedes has the same performance potential – more than 1,000 hp. Honda is a little behind, Ferrari is the class leader. “They have an advantage in qualifying against Mercedes and us.” Mercedes keeps a low profile: “We wouldn’t be talking about 1,000 hp. Maybe Renault has a different calculation model. What counts for us is the lap time.” Taffin says: “Maybe they expect English horsepower.” 736 kilowatts are 987 hp in the English horsepower currency.
Renault has caught up with Mercedes this season. In racing trim also to Ferrari. Compared to 2018, the engineers at the Viry-Châtillon engine plant have found more than 60 hp. The last step towards the 1,000 hp system was an engine upgrade at the GP France.
The drive units would loosely deliver more than 1,000 hp without the flow limitation. The regulations allow a maximum fuel flow of 100 kilograms per hour. But there is a small margin of manoeuvre. And Renault takes advantage of this.
The measuring device in the tank (Fuel Flow Meter) is exposed to certain resonances due to the movement of the racing car on the race track. Due to the vibrations and oscillations, the rules allow small outliers to move upwards. The maximum petrol flow rate may exceed 100 kilograms by three grams. That sounds like little, but it is obviously the decisive bit of room for manoeuvre in injection. “The increased flow rate is only effective for a very short time, then you have to be below it again,” says Taffin. “Otherwise you won’t reach 100 kilos on average.”
DRS for five to six PS more
Obviously Renault brings out a few HP also with a tricky DRS. “You can win five to six hp there,” says the French engine boss, without going into detail. We ask the FIA. The control authorities conclude from this that the air supply to the engine is improved by the folded rear wing and that the screw can therefore be turned more strongly.
For Renault’s technicians, a constant power output is more important than the absolute tops. “In the race we drive with over 950 HP. In certain phases we reach 960 or even 970 hp,” says Taffin. When the drivers have to overtake. This puts you on an equal footing with the competition according to your own GPS measurements. “But there are certain unknowns. For example the air resistance of the cars. We would only have the exact performance level of the competition if we had run their engines on our test stands.”
Honda is still missing something with the maximum performance. But the Japanese package is very reliable. And when the Honda V6 has a hiccup, like in Hockenheim in the qualification, the technicians quickly fix it in the garage. Then there are other maps, and further. Ferrari and Renault, on the other hand, often have technical problems. Honda will follow Italy from the GP. Then 25 extra horsepower will be needed to spur on the Red Bull. The team is satisfied with its Japanese partner. “We are reliable. Renault may have 1,000 hp, but we still beat their cars in the race.” Nevertheless, at last a manufacturer has said how much the high-tech cars actually achieve.