Editor’s note: One of the highlights of the 2013 season for us was the level of detail and information Renault Sport F1 provided the Formula 1 fans. With each newsletter, they unpacked the sport in a brilliant and informative way. The 2014 season looks to be no different and I hope you enjoy the introduction to Renault Sport F1’s new 2014 turbo engine…or power plant.

This year, the FIA Formula One World Championship is set for a raft of radical technical regulation changes. From 2014 onwards, the cars will be powered by avant-garde powertrain technology, with a powerful turbocharged internal combustion engine coupled to sophisticated energy recovery systems.

Energy efficiency will reach levels never seen in the sport before, with two types of energy propelling the cars. The internal combustion engine will produce power through consumption of traditional carbon-based fuel, while electrical energy will be harvested from exhaust and braking by two motor generator units. The two systems will work in harmony, with teams and drivers balancing the use of the two types of energy throughout the race.

The advent of this new technology means that the word ‘engine’ is no longer sufficient: instead the sport will refer to ‘Power Units.’

Renault is fully prepared for this technical revolution, with its Energy F1-2014 Power Unit designed and developed at its Viry-Châtillon HQ in France ready for track testing.

‘Grand Prix racing is a pioneering sport, representing the pinnacle of human endeavour and technological innovation. From the rear mounted engines of the 1930s to the ground effect of the 1980s, F1 technology has always been years ahead of its time. With cutting-edge energy systems and highly advanced turbocharged combustion engines, in 2014 F1 remains true to its DNA. We are absolutely at the vanguard of powertrain technology this year.’

Jean-Michel Jalinier, President of Renault Sport F1

Renaultf1 engine1


In short:

V6 is shorthand for an internal combustion engine with its cylinders arranged in two banks of 3 cylinders arranged in a ‘V’ configuration over a common crankshaft. The Renault Energy F1 V6 has a displacement of 1.6 litres and will make around 600bhp, or more than 3 times the power of a Clio RS.

The challenge:

Contrary to popular belief, the ICE is not the easiest part of the Power Unit to design as the architecture is very different to the incumbent V8s. On account of the turbocharger the pressures within the combustion chamber are enormous – almost twice as much as the V8. The crankshaft and pistons will be subject to massive stresses and the pressure within the combustion chamber may rise to 200bar, or over 200 times ambient pressure.

One to watch:

The pressure generated by the turbocharger may produce a ‘knocking’ within the combustion chamber that is very difficult to control or predict. Should this destructive phenomenon occur, the engine will be destroyed immediately.


In short:

All Power Units must have direct fuel injection (DI), where fuel is sprayed directly into the combustion chamber rather than into the inlet port upstream of the inlet valves. The fuel-air mixture is formed within the cylinder, so great precision is required in metering and directing the fuel from the injector nozzle. This is a key sub-system at the heart of the fuel efficiency and power delivery of the power unit.

The challenge:

One of the central design choices of the ICE was whether to make the DI top mounted (where the fuel is sprayed at the top of the combustion chamber close to the spark plug) or side mounted (lower down the chamber).

One to watch:

The option still remains to cut cylinders to improve efficiency and driveability through corners.


In short:

A turbocharger uses exhaust gas energy to increase the density of the engine intake air and therefore produce more power. Similar to the principle employed on roadcars, the turbocharger allows a smaller engine to make much more power than its size would normally permit. The exhaust energy is converted to mechanical shaft power by an exhaust turbine. The mechanical power from the turbine is then used to drive the compressor, and also the MGU-H (see below).

The challenge:

At its fastest point the turbocharger is rotating at 100,000 revolutions per minute, or over 1,500 times per second, so the pressures and temperatures generated will be enormous. Some of the energy recovered from the exhaust will be passed on to the MGU-H and

converted to electrical energy that will be stored and can later be re-deployed to prevent the turbo slowing too much under braking.

One to watch:

As the turbocharger speed must vary to match the requirement of the engine, there may be a delay in torque response, known as turbo lag, when the driver gets on the throttle after a period of sustained braking. One of the great challenges of the new power unit is to reduce this to near zero to match the instant torque delivery of the V8 engines.


In short:

On conventional turbo engines, a wastegate is used in association with a turbocharger to control the high rotation speeds of the system. It is a control device that allows excess exhaust gas to by-pass the turbine and match the power produced by the turbine to that needed by the compressor to supply the air required by the engine. On the Renault Energy F1, the turbo rotation speed is primarily controlled by the MGU-H (see below) however a wastegate is needed to keep full control in any circumstance (quick transient or MGU-H deactivation).

The challenge:

The wastegate is linked to the turbocharger but sits in a very crowded area of the car. The challenge is therefore to make it robust enough to withstand the enormous pressures while small enough to fit.

One to watch:

On a plane there are certain parts that are classified as critical if they fail. By this measure the wastegate is the same: if it fails the consequences will be very serious.


In short:

The MGU-K is connected to the crankshaft of the internal combustion engine. Under braking, the MGU-K operates as a generator, recovering some of the kinetic energy dissipated during braking. It converts this into electricity that can be deployed throughout the lap (limited to 120 kW or 160bhp by the rules). Under acceleration, the MGU-K is powered from the Energy Store and/or from the MGU-H and acts as a motor to propel the car.

The challenge:

Whilst in 2013 a failure of KERS would cost about 0.3s per lap at about half the races, the consequences of a MGU-K failure in 2014 would be far more serious, leaving the car propelled only by the internal combustion engine and effectively uncompetitive.

One to watch:

Thermal behaviour is a massive issue as the MGU-K will generate three times as much heat as the V8 KERS unit.


In short:

The MGU-H is connected to the turbocharger. Acting as a generator, it absorbs power from the turbine shaft to convert heat energy from the exhaust gases. The electrical energy can be either directed to the MGU-K or to the battery for storage for later use. The MGU-H is also used to control the speed of the turbocharger to match the air requirement of the engine (eg. to slow it down in place of a wastegate or to accelerate it to compensate for turbo lag.)

The challenge:

The MGU-H produces alternative current, but the battery is continuous current so a highly complex convertor is needed.

One to watch:

Very high rotational speeds are a challenge as the MGU-H is coupled to a turbocharger spinning at speeds of up to 100,000rpm.


In short:

Heat and Kinetic Energy recovered can be consumed immediately if required, or used to charge the Energy Store, or battery. The stored energy can be used to propel the car with the MGU-K or to accelerate the turbocharger with the MGU-H. Compared to 2013 KERS, the ERS of the 2014 power unit will have twice the power (120 kW vs 60 kW) and the energy contributing to performance is ten times greater.

The challenge:

The battery has a minimum weight of 20kg to power a motor that produces 120kW. Each 1kg feeds 6kw (a huge power to weight ratio), which will produce large electromagnetic forces.

One to watch:

The electromagnetic forces can impact the accuracy of sensors, which are particularly sensitive. Balancing the forces is like trying to carry a house of cards in a storm – a delicate and risky operation.


In short:

The intercooler is used to cool the engine intake air after it has been compressed by the turbocharger.

The challenge:

The presence of an intercooler (absent in the normally aspirated V8 engines), coupled with the increase in power from the energy recovery systems makes for a complicated integration process since the total surface area of the cooling system and radiators has significantly increased over 2013.

One to watch:

Integration of the intercooler and other radiators is key but effective cooling without incorporating giant radiators is a major challenge and key performance factor.

Renaultsportf1 engine 2 c600


Displacement 1.6L V6
Number of cylinders 6
Rev limit 15,000rpm
Pressure charging Single turbocharger, unlimited boost pressure(typical maximum 3.5 bar abs due to fuel flow limit)
Fuel flow limit 100 kg/hr (-40% from V8)
Permitted Fuel quantity per race 100 kg (-35% from V8)
Configuration 90° V6
Bore 80mm
Stroke 53mm
Crank height 90mm
Number of valves 4 per cylinder, 24
Exhausts Single exhaust outlet, from turbine on car centre line
Fuel Direct fuel injection
MGU-K rpm Max 50,000rpm
MGU-K power Max 120kW
Energy recovered by MGU-K Max 2MJ/lap
Energy released by MGU-K Max 4 MJ/lap
MGU-H rpm >100,000rpm
Energy recovered by MGU-H Unlimited (> 2MJ/lap)
Weight Min 145 kg
Number of Power Units permitted per driver per year 5
Total horsepower 600hp (ICE) + 160hp (ERS)


Renaultf1 engine lap


Under acceleration (eg. down the pit straight) the internal combustion engine will be using its reserve of fuel. The turbocharger will be rotating at maximum speed (100,000rpm). The MGU-H, acting as a generator, will recover energy from the exhaust and pass to the MGU-K (or the battery in case it needs recharging). The MGU-K, which is connected to the crankshaft of the ICE, will act as a motor and deliver additional power to pull harder or save fuel, dependent on the chosen strategy.

At the end of the straight the driver lifts off for braking for a corner. At this point the MGU-K converts to a generator and recovers energy dissipated in the braking event, which will be stored in the battery.

Under braking the rotational speed of the turbo drops due to the lack of energy in the exhaust which, on traditional engines, leads to the curse of the turbo engine – turbo lag. This phenomenon occurs when the driver re-accelerates: Fuel injection starts again and generates hot exhaust gases which speed up the turbo, but it needs time to return to full rotational speed where the engine produces 100% of its power. To prevent this lag, the MGU-H acts as a motor for a very short time to instantaneously accelerate the turbo to its optimal speed, offering the driver perfect driveability.

Over the course of the lap, this balance between energy harvesting, energy deployment and (carbon) fuel burn will be carefully monitored.

‘The use of the two types of energy needs an intelligent management,’ Technical Director for new generation Power Units, Naoki Tokunaga, explains.

‘Electrical energy management will be just as important as fuel management. The energy management system ostensibly decides when and how much fuel to take out of the tank and when and how much energy to take out or put back in to the battery. 

‘The overall objective is to minimize the time going round a lap of the circuit for a given energy budget. Obviously, if you use less energy, you will have a slower lap time. That’s fine. However, what is not fine is to be penalised more than the physics determines necessary. In the relationship between fuel used versus lap time, there is a borderline between what is physically possible and the impossible – we name it ‘minimum lap-time frontier’.

‘We always want to operate on that frontier and be as close to the impossible as we can. The strategy is subject its own limits, namely the capacity of the PU components and the Technical Regulations. The power output of the engine subject to its own limits, plus MGU-K power and the energy the battery can deliver to it are all restricted by the rules.

It is a complex problem. The solution is therefore determined by mathematical modelling and optimisation – we call it ‘power scheduling’.

‘As a result, there will be a complex exchange of energy going on between the components in the system network, at varying levels of power over a lap. This is completely invisible to the driver as it is all controlled electronically by the control systems. The driver will be able to feel it but no driver intervention is normally required, so they can concentrate on the race in hand. Of course, there will be certain driver-operated modes to allow him to override the control system, for example to receive full power for overtaking. Using this mode will naturally depend on the race strategy. In theory you can deploy as many times as you want, but if you use more fuel or more electrical energy then you have to recover afterwards. The ‘full boost’ can be sustained for one to two laps but it cannot be maintained.’

The fact that the driver does not control the balance between fuel and energy does not lessen the involvement of the driver in any way, and in fact his job will be more complicated than in previous seasons. He will still be fighting the car to keep it under control during hard braking, managing braking to avoid understeer into a corner, applying delicate control over the throttle pedal mid-corner, sweeping through complex corners, throwing the car into high speed corners. In terms of driving style, there may well need to be some adjustments.

‘The throttle response will be different so the driver will need to readjust for this,’ Tokunaga explains. ‘Effectively, once the driver applies full throttle, the control systems manage the power of PU, with the aim to minimise the time within the given energy. However full throttle no longer means a demand for full engine power. It is an indication to the PU given by the driver to go as fast as possible with the given energy. He will still need to adjust for the different ‘feel’ of the car with the energy systems.’

Race strategy and race management will also be more flexible than in the past and the optimum solution will vary vastly from circuit to circuit, dependent on factors including percentage of wide open throttle, cornering speeds and the aerodynamic configuration of the car.

‘In essence, engine manufacturers used to compete on reaching record levels of power, but now will compete in the intelligence of energy management,’ Tokunaga summises.

renaulf1 engine compare


How will preparations for a race change with the new Power Unit?

With the new Power Unit incorporating complex electrical and energy recovery systems alongside the standard internal combustion engine the workload pre-race will approximately double. As usual the chassis teams will send us the basic set-up information for each race about two weeks before the event. The engine engineer for the team will then combine this with Power Unit data in realistic conditions to simulate the general operating parameters of the car at that particular circuit. This will then be returned to the chassis teams for analysis with downforce and grip levels and other more advanced and detailed set-ups. This process is iterative and there will be several cycles of returns before we arrive at a set-up we intend to use at the track. As we learn more about operations this process will surely be refined, but we expect the man hours spent per team per race will run into hundreds – more than twice the preparation time for the V8s.

Will anything change on operations during a race weekend?

We have created an operations room to follow running in real time, which is a significant evolution over previous years when all data collection was monitored solely at the track. Additionally we will have greater support from the factory to analyse data post-sessions as we will repatriate information from the track to the factory more often. This quantity of analysis means we will use the dynos at Viry more often for ‘live’ simulations to optimize track performance. It’s hard to say exactly, but I expect the dynos will be working up to three times more as there are more parameters to explore. With the V8 we could predict how it would go, and when there was an issue it was much more of a known issue. These units are vastly more complicated. In fact the only thing that is simpler this year is that there are no gear ratio changes as they are frozen at the start of the season. We can change once during the year but otherwise the eight gears are submitted to the FIA pre-season and they must be the same at each race.

How will the engine support teams be structured this year with the new Power Unit?

The new Power Unit comes with a very different set of challenges so we have strengthened the engine support team operating trackside. For each partner we will have a team of eight technical staff, with one engineer per car, one mechanic, and then one electrician plus a performance engineer, who will look after energy management and the set-up of the Power Unit relating to the balance between fuel and electricity. He will work in close collaboration with the chassis teams, particularly the strategists and the race engineers. 

Will the modus operandi at the tracks change between Renault and the chassis teams?

Not fundamentally as we are already very well integrated with the chassis teams trackside. However the flow and the amount of information between the two halves will be much larger and more important than in previous years. The Power Unit will have two types of energy next year and the way we use them will have a much greater effect on the strategy and its deployment. With the V8 we decided on a strategy and knew at the end of the race we would be within 1% of the optimum. Next year we could have a delta of many tens of seconds if we get things wrong. 

Will we be hearing different calls on the radio next year as a result?

We will hear different calls, for sure. We won’t call out to change the fuel mixture, instead referencing fuel budget, or the quantity of fuel used per lap. Prior to the race the engineers will decide on the mix between fuel and electricity over one lap and we will have a target – or fuel budget – we will need to monitor to ensure we get to the end of the race. The engine engineers will monitor the rate of fuel consumption (both carbon and electric) and the driver will be told over the radio if he is over or under the fuel delta. He will have to manually adjust or alter the style to take this into account.

From 2014 there are just five Power Units per driver per season, but the different components (turbo, ERS etc) can be changed independently of each other. How will you manage this system?

In an ideal world we will try to do as per last year, that is, we change everything together. The life of each part is designed to be roughly similar so we will try to keep the system as a whole, so changing the turbocharger, ERS and battery at same time. However there is also a system where you can change different elements if you need to. While we would not necessarily seek to run different life combinations, it does enable us to tailor the Power Unit to the specificities of each circuit should we need to. For example, we could run a new internal combustion engine at Monza with an old battery to get more power, or we could use a new battery at Monaco and an old engine as the sensitivity to electrical power will be higher and the need for outright speed a lot less. Keeping pace with it all seems difficult but I do not expect we will see too many people using the modular system in real life.

Renaultf1 engine overlay


Unless he drives for more than one team, each driver may use no more than five Power Units during a Championship season. 

If a sixth complete Power Unit is used the driver concerned must start the race from the pit lane.

However this year the power unit is divided into six separate elements:

• Engine (ICE)

• Motor generator unit-kinetic (MGU-K)

• Motor generator unit-heat (MGU-H)

• Energy store (ES)

• Turbocharger (TC)

• Control electronics (CE)

Each driver can use five of each of the above components during a Championship season and any combination of them may be fitted to a car at any one time.

The first time a driver uses a sixth of the above six elements a 10 place grid place penalty will be imposed at the next race. This then starts a new cycle so if another (different) part is used for a sixth time, he will receive a 5 place grid penalty.

If a driver wants to use a seventh of the six elements, he starts yet another cycle so he will get a further 10 place penalty. The second time he wants to use a seventh part he will get a 5-place grid penalty.

If a grid place penalty is imposed, and the driver’s grid position is such that the full penalty cannot be applied, the remainder of the penalty will be applied at the driver’s next race. However, no such remaining penalties will be carried forward for more than one GP.

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.
  • Paul

    Thanks to Renault for the info and to you for putting it together for us here. Now let’s run these things and blow up a couple figuring them out!

  • Max Smoot

    Outstanding summary; thanks for this. It was all a bit opaque before. Certainly many sources for possible failure but if the fuel management budget (i.e. savings) is realised then this could be a game changer.

  • @_Canuck_

    LOoking forward to the change i hope they sound good on track.

  • Rapierman

    So, does that mean that the management of energy requires a different kind of track?

  • Jack Flash (Aust)

    Many thanks to ‘Renault Sport F1’ for the excellent access to images, technical descriptions and expert commentary. Thanks F1B for passing it on so well.

    There are a lot of things to be balanced in the new era of Power Units, and given the introduction of these elements together in one hit, all under quite tight limits on fuel per race and allowable elements per driver per season; all the “Challenges” listed will be significant. Very significant. I am fully expecting major reliability and failure scenarios for quite hefty proportions of the grid, for the first half of 2014. I predict that very few drivers will make it through the whole year without breaking into the 6th power unit element “gift bag” – taking penalties as result.

    There are a lot of very big challenges in the technical side to be truly revealed and understood, when they are put to the proper tests of race conditions. Even testing runs will not chase the ‘heat-soak fatigue’ and ‘below-life-expectancy’ mortality problems that will arise in GP anger.

    One of the largest by far that I can see immediately is the survivability of the design of the Motor-Generator-Unit-Heat (MGU-H). If it was to be directly shaft linked to the Turbo Charger turbine shaft, then as it says, the MGU-H would need to withstand 100,000 rpm rotor speeds. No electrical motor generator structure I know of can come close to surviving the centrifugal forces involved in such rpm. The permanent magnet and coil conductor constructions just cant be bonded strongly enough to get much over 25,000 rpm. It takes cast tungsten-carbide or titanium alloy to make a turbo turbine rotor that can survive this with exhaust gas heating. A MGU-H is not heated, but it is not in the rpm league of a turbine under any technology I know of in my Electrical Engineering Profession. This stated, I would be very surprised if the turbo shaft to MGU-H shaft was not geared down at least 2:1, if not 4:1 to reduce the centrifugal stress of the MGU-H rotor. It wouldn’t be a bad thing ,since the resulting opposing 1:2 or 1:4 gear ratio in motor mode would make spinning the turbo rotor up to avoid turbo-lagging would be more effective acceleration wise. The MGU-K in comparison only has to deal with maximum ICE crank speed of 15,000 rpm capped, so it is not under the same level of potential centrifugal duress.

    Apart from the technology and survivability of the integrated designs (power units inside chassis and integral cooling solutions), the drivers own adaptations to the new behaviour of the cars/power units, and the strategic energy management tasks that come with them, will be quite fascinating. I think we’ll see quite a few smart and calculative drivers prevail over “balls out quick” drivers this year. I am expecting Lewis Hamilton for example to really struggle to come to terms with it. Jack Flash

    • MIE

      The regulations do allow for the MGU-H to be geared down from the compressor, the ratio must be fixed, although there can be a clutch to disconnect the MGU-H completely. Oddly, given your concerns about the ability of an electrical machine to withstand 100,000 rpm, the maximum speed is specified at 125,000 rpm. Perhaps this is an area the FIA are expecting some serious development.
      Worth noting is that both the Technical and Sporting regulations were updated in December. I haven’t read them fully, so I don’t know what has changed.

  • What a great article, loads of very cool information. Wow. Really enjoyed reading this through and I mean read it through not just skim but really analyze what was said.

  • The information that was being shared on this article is actually useful and beneficial to those students who are in the field of automotive and engineering. They might earn some ideas about those things that they can also apply on their work.