Category Archives: 2014 Rule Changes

Analysis of the upcoming season where big changes are afoot.

Analysis: 2014 – Braking

Although it has not cropped up extensively in the media, braking (in particular brake bias and control) will be an important design consideration for 2014. This is down to the introduction of the new power units, which – due to the additional recovery power of the MGU-K – makes the bias difficult to adjust and control.

Current Braking System and KERS

In this section of this post I am going to break (pardon the pun) down the key characteristics of the current (2009-2013) braking system and how each component affects each other.

Since 2009 (excluding 2010), Formula 1 has utilised the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) that increases the efficiency of the braking system, transferring the previously lost energy to a battery. This energy can then be used to provide an additional boost of power at the driver’s disposal for 6.67 seconds per lap. The KERS harvests 60kW of power, which equates to about 80bhp – about the same power as a small family hatchback car.

It does this via a Motor Generator Unit (MGU). As the driver brakes, the engine drives the generator of the MGU which acts as a resistive force to the driveshaft connected to the wheels. The MGU transfers the energy recovered from the generator to the battery. When the driver pushes the KERS button the energy is sent back to the motor of the MGU, adding power to the engine.

Image via racecar-engineering.com

Image via racecar-engineering.com

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Analysis: 2014 – Power Units

Image copyright Renault Sport F1

Image copyright Renault Sport F1

2014 presents the biggest change to Formula 1 cars since the late 1980s: gone are the naturally aspirated 2.4 litre V8 engines and in their place a 1.6 litre V6 turbo is introduced. To make matters more complex the engine manufacturers must apply complex energy recovery systems to boost power output, reduce fuel consumption and further reduce the number of engines allowed per driver per season to lower costs. The idea behind this is to bring F1 technology more in line with road car development.

The last time turbo power was in F1 was during the 1988 season. Honda dominated this era with McLaren, using a 1.5 litre V6 in the famous MP4/4 before being replaced by a 3.5 litre naturally aspirated engines for the following season. Technology has moved on drastically since then. The 2014 power units have the potential to decide the world championship such is their importance. The manufacturer who meets their side of the bargain will have a huge upper hand on the opposition. They are therefore the most likely component to give the biggest performance factor.

What are Power Units?

The engineers no longer refer to the next generation of F1 powertrain as “engines”. They are now dubbed as “power units”. The reason behind this being that the powertrain is made up of more than just a combustion engine/turbo, there are more complex elements involved from this season onwards. The recovery systems on board will generate enough energy to supply plenty of extra kick via an electric motor, with the additional power output mapped into the engine system to provide more performance at optimal stages of the lap (i.e. the driver will no longer have to push a button to use the additional power available).

Facts & Figures

Let’s get into the numbers, starting with the turbo-charged engine itself.

  • Cylinders: 6
  • Capacity: 1.6 litres
  • Power: 600bhp*
  • Maximum rpm: 15,000
  • Maximum fuel flow rate: 100kg per hour at 12,000-15,000rpm

*Estimated figure. Rumours of some manufacturers extracting a higher power output (notably Mercedes) at this stage of development.

Energy Recovery Systems (ERS):

  • Power output: Additional 161bhp for 33.3 seconds per lap
  • Maximum harvest energy: 2MJ per lap
  • Maximum energy output: 4MJ per lap
  • Battery weight: Limited to 20-25kg (must be placed beneath the fuel cell as a single unit)

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Analysis: 2014 – General Summary

2014 side & plan

Although I have started my in depth posts on 2014, some viewers have suggested that I do a quick, bitesize summary post. This will be a short overview of the changes in the technical regulations for next season, informing you of all the facts and figures that you will want/need to know before the season commences in Australia, four months away.

For further information on any of items below, simply click on the sub-titles below for a more in depth analysis! Continue reading

Analysis: 2014 – Aerodynamics | Rear Wing

In my second part of my analysis of the 2014 formula, I shall be looking at the changes that are being made to the rear wing. Other than the rear wing itself there have also been some key modifications to the regulations to try to remove downforce from the cars, such as the reduction of the beam wing.

Rear Wing Profile

From next year, the technical regulations state that the rear wing profile must be slightly shallower. The mainplane of the wing must now lie 750mm above the reference plane when previously it was 730mm. This follows in accordance with the FIA wanting to reduce drag and downforce from the cars, which will in turn create a slight improvement in fuel efficiency.

Red = 2013; Yellow = 2014

Red = 2013; Yellow = 2014

DRS

The 2013 DRS regulations allow the top flap to open between 10mm and 50mm when activated. For 2014 this will be increase with the opening allowed to stretch from 10mm up to 65mm.

It is also worth noting that the Drag Reduction Device (DRD) will still be allowed next year, hence the ongoing development from the teams, particularly Lotus, Mercedes and Sauber. Continue reading

Analysis: 2014 – Aerodynamics | Front Wing

My interpretation of what we could see next year

My interpretation of what we could see next year

One team engineer described the 2014 regulation changes as a “tidal wave” compared to the “ripple” that were the 2009 rule changes, and we all knew how drastically different the cars looked aesthetically and how the racing changed, too. Most of the challenge comes from developing the new “power units” – a 750bhp V6 turbo engine with additional recovery systems (recovering heat under braking and heat energy from the turbocharger) to provide a 160bhp boost for 33 seconds per lap (more on this in a later post). Aerodynamically, teams face another task of providing ample cooling to the power units while also maintaining performance, a challenge made harder by new limits being applied to the crucial elements that provide a significant amount of downforce.

As 2013 developments have become scarce, I have decided to start posting 2014 articles a bit earlier than planned. Analysis: 2014 – Aerodynamics aims to look at different aerodynamic solutions for next year’s cars as a number of rule changes come in. This first installment will cover the new front wing, front bulkhead/chassis and nose layout.

The front wing will receive a bit of a trim next year, reducing its width from 1800mm to 1650mm – 75mm lopped off each side. 75mm is quite a substantial amount, so the engineers will have to rethink the way the airflow is managed around the front tyres.

front wing comparison

The above image shows what the front wing will look like relative to the current wing (dashed lines). One debate that has cropped up on forums lately has been the idea of reverting back to an “inwash” endplate, pinching the profile of the ‘plate inwards and passing airflow inside of the front tyre rather than than around it like we currently see (via an “outwash” endplate curving outwards). The endplate is beyond halfway of the tyre tread so I would assume that it is still slightly more efficient to produce an outwash endplate. Teams will want to continue with this design as they have been using it since 2009 (when the current regulations came in), so the car’s aerodynamic philosophy will be based around the aerostructures of the outwash endplate. Continue reading