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Photo by: www.kymillman.com/F1

Some very interesting commentary from Red Bull’s team boss, Christian Horner, in an article over at Sky Sports F1. The future of Formula 1 may depend on the direction they take in coming months regarding the new engine format and all the details that come with it.

As you know, the new regulation set is slated for a 2020 start date and this means that the new owners, led by veteran Ross Brawn from a technical standpoint, will need to think very hard about what they want the future of F1 to look like.

Will the series continue down the path of hybrid or electric engines? With Mercedes and Porsche both joining Formula E, is that a good thing or bad thing for their long-term commitment to F1 in the case of Mercedes or interest in even joining F1 in the case of Porsche/VW? Does F1 have to have an electric or hybrid component to keep manufacturers interested or would they be fine moving toward normally aspirated engines with KERS?

Lots of question but Horner feels that F1 needs to do it right or face a 10-year slide.

“I really hope that for Formula 1’s sake there is a strong decision made that isn’t a compromise. The problem with a compromise is that it doesn’t suit anybody,” said Horner.

“We have seen all these manufacturers now signing up to Formula E – that is where the technology belongs and where the electric cars belong. Formula 1 is really at a crossroads because the power unit that is picked for 2021 onwards is probably going to have between an eight and 10-year life.

“What are people going to be driving on the roads in 2030? Will they be autonomous? Will they be electric? If you listen to our Government, they’re saying they certainly will be [electric].

“So Formula 1 is at a crossroads where it has to decide what its future is. Is it outright racing? Is it combustion engines? Is it man and machine wanting to know who the best driver, with the technology perhaps playing a slightly lesser role?

“I certainly hope the regulations that are brought in post-2020 bring those aspects to the forefront and that it is about the driver. Yes, the team should absolutely make the difference, but it shouldn’t be a power unit-dominated formula, which is pretty much what we have today.”

It’s a tough decision for sure and while Horner believes that getting back to basics should be the goal, it would be easy to understand his desire for a traditional, more affordable engine as his team doesn’t manufacture their own. Having readily available and competitive power supplies would make Red Bull’s superior chassis development a strong combination…again.

One might suggest that Williams, Force India, Sauber and Haas might also be interested in this approach as well as McLaren. On the other hand, Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari and Honda all have investment and appetites for hybrid development. What do you do?

“I sense that the model for Chase [Carey] and the Liberty guys is all about putting on a great show, great events, producing great content, which means wheel-to-wheel racing, making the drivers the stars and getting their characters across, and using all the media platforms to do that,” added Horner. “And that sort of goes against the grain of a highly technically-advanced formula.

“Now, I guess, that is conflict that Ross [Brawn] is charged with. He’s poacher turned gamekeeper and he’s going to have to look at some of the fundamentals and it’s a matter of having the courage to make the big decisions.”

If I had to guess, I would predict a dual-turbo 6-cylinderg engine with KERS but no MGU-H. It’s still a hybrid but without the waste/heat element. This is what sniffles the sound of the engines (along with the turbo) and perhaps they could not only get the sound of an F1 car back but also include KERS which is still road relevant and relatively mature as an engineering element on F1 cars. What is your guess?

Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Tom Firth

    Can’t see it going any other way than the wishes of Daimler and Ferrari. They hold the real influence in the series direction. Everyone else will just have to go with whatever their wishes are and in all likelihood, that is further hybrid and electric engine integration.

    • Salvu Borg

      Fully agree with “cant see it going any other way than the wishes of Mercedes and FERRARI” but I don’t know why you left out Renault and Honda, I am sure their wishes are the same as the other two. The spiceman saying that for Ross Brawn “its a matter of having the courage to make the big decisions” is all RBR type of BS.
      “it shouldn’t be a power unite dominated formula” (the spiceman), yes of course it should be an aero dominated formula!. that produces cans of cat piss.

      • Tom Firth

        Just feel the power dynamic within those around the table, is shifted more towards Ferrari and Daimler (Mercedes) than it is towards Honda and Renault. All have a seat around the table, but the lobbying power seems to be in the other two.

        If Mercedes or Ferrari threaten to quit or ever did. F1 would seriously panic. It’s a bit like do KTM, Aprillia, Ducati and Suzuki hold as much power over MotoGP as Honda or Yamaha?

        • Salvu Borg

          Agree and understands that some are worth more fire power then others, but I am sure they (all four) will stand united as regards what the next power unit would/should be. that regardless what the spiceman and the good doctor of the red bullies wants and are pushing for because it suits them best.
          The real problem the new owners of F1 are working on/trying to skirt by talking this, that and the other (power unit cost/complexity, budgets, teams payments and cost cuts) are the same as there was before and the exact same the previous owners were always working on, the new owners language as the once before them spells “maximizing profits”. The new owners push might sound sweeter but it is the same as the previous owners push,

    • Paul KieferJr

      If you could divorce Daimler and Ferrari (which may be the best idea yet) from Formula 1, where could it go?

      • Salvu Borg

        (Commercial rights holder looking to standardize components), regardless (and useless) of what the three stooges say- their ultimate aim is a car specification series, which is just the only thing the Americans understands.

    • jakobusvdl

      There are a whole lot of things at play in F1 in sorting out the 2021 spec for the cars. And much bigger than that, for Liberty Media to sort out what it wants the series to be and how its going to contract with the teams, circuits, sponsors, fans etc.
      It doesn’t look like the p.u format is the first building block that needs to be in place to sort that out. I guess the issue is being driven by the lead times required to develop a new p.u.
      On the new p.u format, there are some strong clues where things are going,
      There is the important view of Ross Brawn’s technical group,
      https://www.bakucitycircuit.com/en/news/102 – which talks about cost, and access, but maintaining the efficency that the current untils have.
      And there are the ground rules the FIA and manufacturers agreed in April;-
      ‘The power units must maintain F1 as the pinnacle of motor sport technology but also be relevant to current road car trends.The FIA also stated the engines should be noisier, powerful, but simpler and less costly to develop, while allowing drivers to push for an entire race.”
      I’ve also seen a few articles saying that the MGU-H is too complex and costly, and will probably be dropped.
      So the next spec will probably be a variation on the current hybrid, with a low cost ‘noise generator’ that can sound like a V8, V10 or V12 at the flip of a switch.
      Or whatever Ferrari and Mercedes feel like making.

      • Salvu Borg

        A turbocharged engine can never sound like a neutrally aspirated engine.
        Those that says the MGUH is what makes the present power units so expensive, or that the MGUH is the most expensive says so because it suits them best.
        The most two expensive things are combustion process development and producing a PU to last the mandatory mileage.

        • jakobusvdl

          Cheers Salvu, You’re quite right, a turbo can’t sound like an n.a. That’s why the ‘noise generator’ will be required to satisfy the folks who think the sound of a high reving n.a I.c.e is the signature of F1. Maybe it will just be an app you can run on your headphones or t.v. All part of L.M’s individualised fan offering (I might be joking, but fear I could be right).
          Where have you found the info on the costs of the hybrid p.u’s? I know your searches and reading are much broader than mine.
          I’m sure that the L.M technical group, and manufacturers in the FIA panel will know where the real costs of the p.u’s lie. Hopefully the drive to reduce costs is sincere across all parties, and we’ll get a framework that is technically advanced, and cost effective.

          • Salvu Borg

            JAKO, Good morning from this side, there was no researches needed to find out the costs of the present PU, my engineering instants tells me the following, it would be cheaper to design and produce 40 engines producing maximum power for 2 cars for a 20 race season then designing and producing 8 engines producing maximum power for 2 cars for a 20 race season.
            The electric power output of the present PU, both deployment and harvesting is fixed by the rules, be assured that the top (best) manufacturers promptly achieved that target, the only thing to improve upon left for them was the MGUH function, but not the MGUH design itself. The operating improvements of the MGUH can only come from the power of combustion. Heat is power, most of the heat produced by combustion goes to waste, the better the combustion, the more heat it will produce, which means more power, the more power produced by combustion the harder the MGUH can be made to work.
            Up to the FI NA engine it was known that the strongest combustion using regular pump petrol that can be had is when burning fuel at a ratio of 14 parts of air to 1 part of fuel, the fastest way forward for engine designers to extract more power was to increase the number of combustions per minute, back than when no fuel restrictions (flow/consumption) was imposed that was the fastest way forward. Fuel restrictions regulations changed the way the engine designers have to extract the maximum power out of an engine.

          • Salvu Borg

            Up to last year (2016) with the MGUK harvesting rules as are (maximum harvesting one half of the maximum deployment) the best of the manufacturers developed the combustion so as the MGUH will compensate for the other half of the MGUK maximum deployment.
            With the new for 2017 aero rules braking during a lap was going to be much less during a lap, so the one half the harvesting of the maximum deployment of the MGUK was going to be much less, this had to be compensated for by the MGUH, the MGUH can only be made to work harder to compensate by developing a stronger and better combustion.

          • jakobusvdl

            Thanks Salvu, while I agree that developing a p.u of a given output to last a race should be a cheaper proposition than a p.u of the same output but having to last at least 5 race weekends.
            However a bunch of smart people hung their hats on the latter being cheaper. I imagine that most of the reduction was expected to come with the token system limiting the time and resources a manufacturer could put into p.u development. But being F1, they quickly decided that limiting development spending was for losers.
            Really interesting information about the role of the MGU-H, and how the whole energy harvesting and deployment changes with the spec of the cars.
            Some things for me to think about there.

          • Salvu Borg

            JAKO, again good morning from this side, re power unit cost, “however a bunch of smart people hung their hats on the latter being cheaper”. Yes, smart people indeed taking so many others for a ride, I am sure you heard me/read me saying/advising others on here to carefully sieve and separate the seeds from the chaff of what is pushed out before forming once mind/ forming an opinion. if next year the number of power unit components goes down to three from four as planned, the cost of developing that power unit would have been much higher than that of the year before.
            “Really interesting information about the role of the MGUH” Yes interesting stuff of which we should/out to be talking more about on here.

          • jakobusvdl

            It does seem that F1 stuffed up by introducing the ‘sinking lid’ on p.u element numbers, along with the token system. If the p.u’s had been close in performance from the start, that would have been okay, but with Mercedes making such a great job of the p.u in 2014, the system just hands them an ongoing advantage.
            Fingers crossed the FIA agree to stop the sinking lid for future seasons, only Mercedes would stand to lose from that.

  • Richard Bunce

    Would be nice to see F1 and Indy and perhaps some class in WEC using the same spec ICE… perhaps a specification that would allow both normally aspirated and turbo charged ICE… hybrid would be an add on above that. Perhaps if same ICE used in multiple series then more manufacturers would be interested in building them.

    • To that point, Gibson sure made out well with all those LMP2 cars this year. :)

    • Junipero Mariano

      Nissan putting their GT3 engine into a DPi worked out nicely. Several class using the same ICE spec sounds great! Maybe differentiating the multiple classes through more and more powerful KERS will satisfy the road relevancy demands.

    • Salvu Borg

      “using the SAME specification ICE…PERHAPS specification that would allow BOTH normally aspirated and turbo charged ICE…hybrid would be an add on above that”.
      As an engineer I would dearly love to know about a reasonable acceptable equivalency formula to balance all the above thrown into the one basket.

      • Richard Bunce

        WEC has tried to do that over the last several years in the LMP1 class have they not? Seemed to accommodate different fuels and different hybrid designs. I believe a couple years back someone (maybe Cosworth?) proposed having a normally aspirated non hybrid motor producing the same power and using a lot more fuel for the cheap engine.

        If the spec was a same basic energy available as input at the start of the race to complete the race or a more difficult to regulate perhaps energy output throughout the race. In the second case someone could make a basic brute of an engine that was relatively inexpensive (Yates) but suffer from carrying more fuel and another could make a highly efficient engine that used less fuel but cost somewhat more.

        In any case I think many engines buy is a little better than one engine to buy but many engines opens the door to a breakthrough like Mercedes over the last several years if not regulated somehow.

        • Tom Firth

          WEC successfully balanced various levels of hybrid outputs in relation to fuel flow with several different engine platforms.

          They failed to successfully balance non hybrid and hybrid powered cars though entirely.

          • Richard Bunce

            Do you know if they were looking at energy in, energy out, or some other metric like lap times to make the adjustments?

    • jakobusvdl

      I like the idea of a common p.u spec across F1, WEC, and Indy, but that would mean the governing bodies, and participants of the three series aligning, AND…..F1 accepting WEC and Indy as equals. I don’t think that last part will happen.

      • Tom Firth

        I suggest googling ‘Ulrich Baretzky and Global Race Engine’ and also ‘FIA Global Race Engine’ regarding an ICE that would work in several international motorsport series.

        It is in WTCC and WRC. It could have made it into F1, if Ferrari hadn’t threatened a veto and forced F1 into the V6 1.6 Turbo unit we have now. The GRE platform forms the basis for various other championship regulation sets around the world.

        • Salvu Borg

          Answering Richard Brunce suggestion was a different matter than having one specification for all, as I said, I would very much like to know about a possible equivalency formula for the lot he suggested.
          The original idea of a global race engine that Max Mosely was after when he was at loggerheads with the formula one teams association was promised to him by Volkswagen in the form of a 4 cylinder 1.5l turbocharged engine. Max Mosely was back then calling it his dream of the ultimate “world engine” he went as far as wanting the design of such an engine to belong to the FIA regardless were and by whom it would be produced.
          As to FERRARI, At the time while onehalfthecancerofFI was pushing for the above, the other onehalfthecancerofFI was telling AAP “there are 2 things actually really important in F1 (FORMULA ONE), one is FERRARI and the other is the noise”.
          That was the only time that I can remember that the 2 halfcancerofF1 were in conflict with each other.
          At around the time of the subject at hand (2011) I remember FI BLOG.COM with an article on the subject.

          • Tom Firth

            The response I gave was aimed at Richard’s question, to demonstrate the closest the sport has come to global engine platforms.

            On your comment however, the equivalency between ICE and Hybrid or KERS concepts doesn’t seem very possible, if you base it on the only place it’s been tried so far which was sportscar racing.

            The GRE wasn’t a Mosley concept directly. It originated in 2006, before FOTA. It was used during the FOTA debate though.

            I believe it was Peter Wright at the FIA who came up with it initially, Baratzky supported it and eventually several manufacturers including VW and Ford built engines to it.

          • Salvu Borg

            TOM, The four cylinder 1.5l turbocharged engine was one of the three armaments Mosely used when fighting FOTA back then, the other two were the budget gap and the Cosworth engine plus the four new teams. The four cylinder 1.5l turbocharged engine didn’t happen because FERRARI stood up to Mosely and as BE said back then, because FERRARI is one of the most important things in F1.

          • Tom Firth

            Yes I know. Never disputed any of those things. Just that the GRE concept was not his originally, which is true.

          • Salvu Borg

            The original was a 4 cylinder (inline) 1.5l turbocharged with less maximum RPM imposed then what the 1.6l turbocharged had imposed.

        • jakobusvdl

          Thanks Tom, that was an interesting bit of reading.
          Baretzky’s vision of small capacity high efficiency turbocharged p.u’s in place of large capacity n.a units is certainly gaining hold. It’s interesting that he’s been driven by the pursuit of efficency, which manufacturers can feedback to road vehicles.
          The GRE’s in this seasons WRC cars certainly don’t lack power.
          One interesting article in the search was this one;
          https://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/le-mans-tech/
          Highlighting that there are a number of technologies that make it to road cars from racing, and vice versa.

  • charlie white

    I’m sure I am not the only one who saw this coming in 2017. 2020 is a make or break year for the entire sport on many levels. I don’t know what technical engine specs may come out of the FIA but I am still predicting at least one manufacturer will drop out over that regulation. Even without the attention of race fans, Formula-E may be F1’s closest threat.

  • Meine Postma

    Yeah, Hornes needs to say less BS.

    • jakobusvdl

      I think Horner/RBR are looking at McLaren and thinking ‘that’s going to be us, when the Renault race team starts getting competitive, and cuts us back to customer status’. So they’re stamping around to try to create some competitive options for themselves.

      • Salvu Borg

        Renault status stands as an engine customer of Renault, it has been like that since Renault returned as a manufacturer team, and the engine customer status (supply) was only possible thanks to the ex-MR F1.

        • jakobusvdl

          True enough, but I think the level of support changes as the manufacturer team becomes more competitive with the customer.
          After the abuse RBR give Renault about the p.u, I’m sure they’re looking forward to the time when they can tell RBR just what they can shove up their air blown diffuser.
          McLaren could see it coming from Mercedes, I’m sure RBR can too.

          • Salvu Borg

            JAKO, fully agree with all you said.

          • Salvu Borg

            “after the abuse RBR gave Renault”, I remember many an engine flop introduced into F1 by a customer racing team, but I don’t ever remember the engine supplier being bad mouthed like that/like red bull bad mouthed Renault. Renault can never forget that and everybody and his dog took note of all that, at the height of it I remember somebody quoting Carlos CHosen saying “when red bull wins red bull great, when red bull lose Renault shit, we will show them”.

  • Salvu Borg

    Why does the spiceman his good doctor, in short RBR wants a more simple engine preferably made by an independent engine maker in 2021?.
    The latest guesstimations that every team periodically does on other teams from their pit wall using GPS (point of exit of corner up to end of speed trap straight) using engine sound and GPS for their calculating the maximum power output of the power unite shows that both Mercedes and FERRARI in qualifying mode (waste gates open-electric supercharging mode) are well past the 1000 BHP, and within 4 BHP of each other, depending on the differences in the level of downforce used.

    • jakobusvdl

      Any idea how far the Renault and Honda p.u’s are, and the Mercedes and Ferrari p.u’s in the customer teams?

      • Salvu Borg

        the subject/reading I was quoting from Concentrates on the gains/improvements the four manufacturers did this year (2017). Power/speed charts/graphs are produced/shown, total two graphs/charts are produced, one at beginning of season “GP d’Austrailia” and one at “GP d’Ungheria”. the charts/graphs readings are for the cars in qualifying mode (electric supercharging and waste gates open) at the said two races, The progress results as per your question:- Honda went from 958 BHP to 970. Renault went from 980 BHP to 994.

        • jakobusvdl

          Great information thanks Salvu.
          I’m sure that most fans would be surprised to hear that the peak output of the four p.u’s are so close to each other, within 0.4%!
          People scoffed when the F.I.A reported that the testing programme the manufacturers developed showed the p.u’s were within the compatibility target of 3%.
          There is obviously much more that contributes to lap time of an F1 car than just peak output, especially when ostensibly the same p.u in a Williams or Force India is 1.0 to 2.0 sec slower on a quali lap than the Mercedes. And a ‘less powerful’ RBR can consistently out qualify both Mercedes customers.

          • Salvu Borg

            The manufacturers did not developed the program, the FIA did, the manufacturers agreed and endorsed-it (the methodology used). the FIA is in a much better position to do such simulations accurately then anybody else including the manufacturers (teams) being in possession of the actual homologated power units and their respective technical blueprints.
            But anyhow, although I know of the FIA April 2017 report, what I was quoting from is a different type of maximum power output analysis the result of which is as near the FIA one as can be, it was carried out by one of the non English speaking/non British individual F1 website that I follow, (the world of F1 reporting doesn’t end with the British based (mostly but not all) most impartial F1 websites the likes of SKY, BBC, JAF1 and FANATIC to name just a few, the top 4 that are at each other’s troth for top fanboyism clicks). I am lucky that I can follow and participate in about 4 different non English speaking F1 sites from 4 different countries apart from my local once and the English once, the last of which for almost 100 percent of locals comes neutrally.
            Some reading these reports may ask, why the situation is what it is, why the differences?, the answer is, it is al down to who can sustain most power output for most of a qualifying lap, and down to who can sustain most of the power output for lap after lap in race mode.

          • Salvu Borg

            Jako, we can go on with this very interesting discussion, but I am afraid that we can hurt some egos from on here with real and actual facts mostly regarding the last two on the power unit gains.

          • jakobusvdl

            Thanks for clarifying that Salvu. I knew that the test programme was agreed to by the manufacturers, and assumed they’d been involved in its development.
            Being mono-lingual is a real limitation to understanding in so many ways, not just following F1. There are so many nuances of context and intention that get lost in translation. I enjoy that fact you’re able to provide information from those other sources and languages.