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Even before the first of the 2013 cars has been unveiled, attention is already turning towards 2014 when the new engine formula is introduced. Mercedes, which is one of the three manufacturers developing the 'power units' gives us an introduction.
What can you tell us about the 2014 engine?First of all, let's mention the rules rather than the engine. For 2014, the rules specify a maximum race fuel allowance of 100 kg - compared to a typical race fuel load of around 150 kg today, although that's not fixed by the rules.
That means we have one third less fuel to complete the same race distance with - and we want to do it at the same speed. So we need a powertrain that's 30% more energy efficient.
And that's where the new engine comes in?Well, it's not really just an engine any more. Without getting too technical, Article 1.22 of the Technical Regulations now refers to what's called a 'Power Unit'. This comprises an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine), an ERS (Energy Recovery System) and all the ancillaries needed to make them work.
But why a Power Unit? Well, today's V8 essentially features a “bolt-on” KERS Hybrid system that was added during the engine's life. The 2014 Power Unit has been designed with integrated hybrid systems from the very beginning.
Interesting. F1 loves jargon, so ICE and ERS sound just perfect. What do they mean?The ICE is the traditional engine in the Power Unit package. 1.6 litre capacity, turbocharged, and with direct fuel injection at a pressure of up to 100 bar. Where the current engines rev to 18,000 rpm, the ICE is limited to 15,000 rpm from 2014.
As for ERS, it's like KERS on steroids: not only can we still harvest energy from and deploy energy to the rear axle, we can now do the same from the turbocharger; the kinetic machine is called MGUK (Motor Generator Unit Kinetic) and the machine on the turbo an MGUH ('h' for heat).
In total, we are allowed to harvest and deploy energy at twice the power to the rear axle - so 161 hp compared to 80.5 hp today. And we are allowed to deploy ten times as much energy - 4MJ compared to 400 kJ. Simply put, that means a bigger power boost for a higher percentage of the lap.
And that's what helps improve the efficiency?Exactly. Part of the efficiency gain comes from the ICE, which runs at lower speeds with fewer moving parts than the V8 and the benefit of turbocharging; but the other part is to be found in the ERS.
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