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Exclusive: F1 looking at 1.5 litre 'turbo' formula

NEWS STORY
14/04/2010

According to highly reliable Pitpass sources, F1's powers that be are seriously considering a switch to 1.5 litre powerplants in 2013 together with the return of turbochargers.

For many, the turbocharged era (1977 - 1988) was one of the greatest in the history of the sport, the ultra-fast machines, widely considered the most powerful open-wheel circuit racing cars in the history of motorsport, truly helping the sport to live up to its 'pinnacle of motorsport' tag.

However, as the 1,100 bhp monsters looked set to raise lap speeds ever higher, assisted by the increasing influence of aerodynamics, the FIA first sought to limit the power before finally banning the turbochargers for 1989.

Twenty-one years later, however, with an eye on environmental issues, the teams and engine manufacturers have been discussing the possibility of returning to the 1.5 litre formula complete with turbos, or "boosters" as some would have them known.

It's believed that such a move would not only bring a number of (currently hesitant) sponsors on board, but could also lead to manufacturers entering the series, Audi being the first name that spring to mind.

When Virgin was linked with a buy-out of the Honda F1 team at the end of 2008, it was the sport's failure to genuinely deal with green issues, especially biofuels, that caused Richard Branson to get cold feet, though he subsequently bought into the Manor Grand Prix team. Nonetheless, the Englishman has said that the sport must genuinely address environmental issues.

Our sources claim that one of the ideas currently on the table for 2013 is for 1.5 litre, straight-four, turbocharged engines, using half as much fuel as at present, but with as many KERS variables as possible. Indeed, our source says that the current talk of the return of KERS in 2011 - initially rejected by the teams before a 180 degree turnaround - is "only half the story".

However, while most are supporting of the idea, including manufacturers not currently in F1, some, mainly Ferrari are not.

Contacted by Pitpass, one insider admitted: "A number of possible engine configurations are being looked at but all at a sensitive stage. (There is a) big push for current units to remain (for cost reasons) but the FIA is keen on a step change in technology."

First introduced by Renault in 1977, initially the systems were highly unreliable, the French manufacturer having to endure a year of failures before finally finishing a race. In the years that followed, more and more teams tried the devices but it was in 1983 when, in the eyes of many, the turbo era truly began.

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