Over the past three seasons we have become used to the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, allowing drivers the choice of when they used the additional 6.7 seconds of power from the 60kW (80.5 bhp) motor generator unit.  We have seen some drivers using this boost strategically to fend off attempted DRS passes, or to successfully pass drivers in unexpected places.

For next season this changes dramatically.  There are two motor generator units, a 120kW (161 bhp) Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K) much the same as this seasons KERS unit, but double the power, and a Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H).  This latter unit is unspecified in term of power and is connected to the single turbo charger (pressure charging system).  The rules specify a single compressor, and so this is likely to be large to give maximum boost.  Unfortunately this comes with a penalty of turbo lag.  While the Rally Cars solved this problem in the 1990’s by pumping unburned fuel into the exhaust and igniting it to keep the turbo spinning, this solution is not going to work for F1 with a 100kg of fuel as the upper limit for a race distance.  Instead the MGU-H will have to reduce the turbo lag.

Appendix 3 of the FIA F1 2014 Technical Regulations has a nice diagram of the energy flows allowed in the new ERS for next season:

Appendix 3


So the Energy Store has a maximum useable capacity of 4MJ (ten times that allowed this year), so on first glance it looks like the boost available from the ERS will be available for five times as long as this year (the motor is twice as powerful so consumes the available energy at double the rate), that would give a 161bhp boost for 33.3 seconds.  Unfortunately the situation is slightly more complicated than that, as while 4MJ of energy can pass from the energy store to the MGU-K each lap, only 2MJ of energy can pass the other way.  Could this open the door to even more strategic deployment of the ERS as drivers save up the available boost for a lap and then overtake an unsuspecting rival the next?  It is possible, and certainly it is one interpretation of the rules.  However looking at the allowable energy flows on the diagram this doesn’t take into account the MGU-H, which has unlimited flow both to and from the Energy Store, and the MGU-K.

I think it should be possible to design the ERS where It is effectively always on, so there is no need for a separate button on the steering wheel.  This is how I think it should work.

  1. At the start of the race, the Energy Store is fully charged, as the revs rise waiting for the lights to go out, the MGU-H spins the turbo to eliminate any turbo lag.Figure 1
  2. As soon as the car starts moving and it is no longer traction limited, the MGU-K would also come into play.Figure 2
  3. Once the throttle is open fully, and the turbo is up to speed, the MHU-H would feed its power through to the MGU-K, with any excess going to the Energy StoreFigure 3
  4. As the car brakes for a corner, the MGU-K is used to charge the Energy Store, and to keep the Turbo spinning (to prevent any noticeable turbo lag when the driver gets back on the throttle)Figure 4

Mid corner, with the driver on part throttle we are back to the situation at diagram 1 again, and so the cycle repeats.  With the energy flow between the MGU-H and MGU-K unlimited in either direction, as long as the turbo is big enough to supply the 120kW needed to drive the MGU-K, there should be no need for a button on the steering wheel.

If this proves to be the case, will you feel robbed of a ‘push to pass’ system, or do you consider it a more efficient way of generating the power an F1 car needs to race than the current 2.4 litre V8s?

A long time fan of Formula 1 and grass roots motorsport, I am interested in the engineering aspects not only of F1 but the 'men in sheds' who develop homemade specials to take on the products of the big racing car manufacturers.
  • KevinW

    I have mixed feelings on this. On the one hand it seems contrived and complex for a race-car, adding weight and components that make failure at critical times inevitable. That means who wins the championship will be even less about driver than it is today, and more about mechanical reliability, etc.. It also means the mid pack and lower teams are screwed by rule. They will simply never have the cash its going to take to build a powerful AND reliable system, along with the turbo engine package itself. That said, it is a more energy efficient way to move a car around the track. With the worlds stores of fossil fuels an issue, and the idea of converting food into fuel falling from favor, it seems a reasonable approach to bring Hybrid technology to racing. If they can do it in F1, then it should be good for next generations of performance cars. This is the root of F1 from its origin, to prove out technologies and demonstrate performance and reliability for the buying public. The risk is, if it fails and makes a mess of races, F1 is not the only entity that will suffer for the bad publicity of it all… Gonna be interesting!

    • tom

      I agree that this feels kinda contrived, it would have been better to simply limit fuel consumption and let the teams freely pursue whichever approach they feel works best for them. Having said that, I don’t share your pessimism. The mid-pack teams will purchase their power-unit (engine+electric system) from the same manufacturers everybody else does. So there’s no reason to think that, say Force India will suffer more from reliability issues than McLaren. At the same time, reliability will once again become more of an issue, but that’s usually what happens when you’re at the fringe of technological development. The last years have been a major exception in that regard in Formula 1, partly due to the engine freeze and a general scaling back on fringe developments with the need to make engines last more than one race.

  • tom

    In general, I’m looking forward to these changes. Although I wish that the FIA had come down even harder on aero. The importance aero has in this day and age simply is far too great. It has no bearing whatsoever on road cars and only drives up costs. A move towards a bigger emphasis on engines is good IMHO, it only should be even bigger.

    That’s why I really would have liked the return of ground effect cars as it was first planned, where the grip gained through the ground effect would have been shed in terms of aero…why not remove the rear wing entirely for example, or any wing for that matter. I think I could really like the following formula: You get four wheels that have some sort of fixed interspaces, you can build whatever you feel like in-between those wheels as long as it doesn’t consume more than 100kg of fuel and doesn’t have any wings or winglets. Done.

    • tom

      Plus I guess I forgot in my formula to specify that it should be open wheel…that’s sort of the defining feature after all…so there should be a predefined area around the wheels where there must not be any bodywork. Yeah, I guess that should do it…

    • PeterFan

      The aero benefits are a pandora’s box. There is no way they can make the teams give up seeking more and more downforce. If they remove the main wings(or reduce their size), increase the ride height and etc. it will only increase the costs. All teams will have to look into more and more awkward placed to find additional downforce.

      I suggest the opposite. Give them an easy way to achieve insane amount of downforce(preferable without disturbing the surrounding air too much) so that even the small teams can be competitive. This way it will be pointless to look for strange aero contraptions and all teams will concentrate on stuff like driver, engine, suspension, tyres.

      • tom

        But that’s exactly what I’m suggesting. Take away the sophisticated aero with all the wings and winglets and instead hand the teams loads of mechanical grip via ground effect and larger rubber.

        At then end of the day, I do love the technological aspect of F1, but I’d like it to be car related. It should be mechanical engineers making the difference with smart ideas on engines, gearboxes, suspensions, etc., not so much the guys who come from aerospace who come up with new ways to channel the air around the car.

        • Shocks&Awe

          Forgive me for saying it, but ground-effects is aero grip, not mechanical grip. In any case I don’t think you can eliminate aero, even without wings there’s always bodywork. The fact is that downforce produces more grip than anything else. I think if you want to reduce the amount of time/money spent on aero, you need to specify a proscribed amount of force at certain speeds. e.g. x PSI at 30kph, x*5 at 120kpk, etc. You could create a standard test in a wind tunnel. That way everyone has the same amount of downforce and they all focus on other areas for more grip.

          • tom

            I’m obviously no expert on the terminology. I think I once heard the argument that the ground effect creates “mechanical grip” because it doesn’t cause drag the way wings do. But I guess I see the logic in calling it aero grip, since it is fundamentally an aerodynamical principle.

            But whatever it’s called, you got the basic idea. Your idea of a fixed downforce for everyone sounds a little too restrictive for my taste, but I guess I’d still prefer it to the current system, provided that other restrictions that are in place now (especially on engine development) are lifted. I certainly wouldn’t want it on top of what is already in place as it would move F1 very close to a spec series.

  • tom

    And I need to leave one more comment before I shut up: I love that photo of the Mercedes in front of the grand stand, it so encapsulates F1, great choice.

  • Lebole

    Removing wings off formula one car poses so much danger. I would hate to see formula one go that far behind in time by eliminating the safety of a driver.

    Imposing how a KERS system should works sounds like a draw back. I think each team should make their own KERS system or whoever need to purchase it has the option to do so, then we would see radical development which I think would bring more fans, a major revolution in sport. Of course there should be some limiting factors as to how long KERS can be deployed for and the amount of energy storage. I’m thinking the deployment time and power out put should be an inverse relationship. One KERS can out put 300hp but it would last half the time or less hp with gain on deployment time..

    • tom

      Regarding your safety concerns: I (implicitly) said that the lost grip due to aero should be made up by mechanical grip, like ground effect or larger rubber. But even if that doesn’t completely replace the grip lost, I still wouldn’t have safety concerns, as professional racing drivers should be able to adapt. It’s no difference from a race in the wet for example, where grip is severely reduced. And it wouldn’t even be quite as bad, because in the rain, you always run the risk of spontaneously losing all grip on a particularly wet patch, which can easily result in a crash, while a reduced overall grip due to less downforce would work consistently across the board, so you can adapt to it and predict where a loss of grip would set in, just as it is with todays F1.

  • Cody

    Because there will be much more power available and the ability of teams to have the systems in operation at all times, will it result in a smaller fuel load to offset the weight of the systems? They have the power available to at least eliminate some of the energy in a few kilos of fuel over the course of the race. So long as the trade off still permits them to have comparable lap times with equal power of other teams, managing the power introduced by the ERS could lead to better application to the wheels. Obviously traction control is outlawed at this time, but there has to be some influence from the ERS on that if power is always available or modulated. Will that result in a violation of an article?

  • Shocks&Awe

    I sometimes miss the days of less regulations, more innovation, but tighter regs do produce closer racing. I don’t miss the days of one team winning virtually every race by over a minute…

  • Saša

    Next year we will see 2009. again. But in even worse manner. I bet that one team will win every race, with advantage of over 1 second per lap at any lap and any race. Just sit and watch. Maybe it won’t be boring if that will be Ferrari as there we have you know who. Or could be Mercedes with also two interesting drivers. But if we see Red Bull in that situation, guess who will win 22 races.
    Why I say this, well, if Renault do best job with engine, Adrian will have best aero and we can go watch Indy Car.
    If Mercedes or Ferrari do best job, maybe won’t be so bad at all.

    Whatever it will be, my bet is, it will be not so good.

    What happen when team use one more engine than it’s allowed? Drop 10 places, right?
    So, how about made car that goes 1 or 2 second per lap better than any other but his engine last for just one race.
    Tell me how on Earth will anyone be able to defend against it even when it start from 10th place.

    And what we have next year is just that, build much stronger engine that last less, and change it.
    Forget reliability, you don’t need it when you have 1 or 2 seconds per lap better time. Just change engine when you need it.
    I would made car that goes faster at least 2 seconds per lap but need new engine on every race.
    Will get every pole, who cares about 10 place drop, then with so big advantage I will win the race.
    Do it again on next race. Who cares.
    And it will be even fun, as driver will need to do some overtaking, so spectators will have some fun, say, 10-15 laps.

    Guys in FIA are payed from someone to made all those idiotic rules and to change them when who pay need. Tell me I’m wrong.

    • Saša

      To add, as Ferrari fan, next year I will have my fun, I don’t even need to see Ferrari wining.
      Just to see two best drivers in the world in Ferrari is all that I need. Even if they don’t win whole year, I will enjoy watching them.
      So, thanks to Ferrari, next season won’t be a total disaster.

  • Marko

    I like these changes as an electric engineer student. the way that the power is used with this ERS is for me great because its so simple but so comlex. Looking forward :D