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All eyes will be on Renault Sport F1 this weekend and in particular, their customer Red Bull Racing. Having suffered from technical issues during the 12 days of winter testing, Red Bull managed approximately 1,700km compared to nearly 5,000km by rival Mercedes-powered teams. Some of those issues were distinctly Red Bull’s while others were at the doorstep of Renault Sport F1. Specifically, an engine knock.

Engine knock occurs when the air/fuel combustion happen outside of the optimum moment in the cycle of an engine or outside the normal combustion front. This can range from inconsequential to destructive proportions depending on the severity and design of the engine. Renault Sport F1’s Remi Taffin told AUTOSPORT’s Jonathan Noble and Ben Anderson:

‘Knock’ refers to the sound made by an engine when its ignition timing is set incorrectly, often leading to damage inside the combustion chamber.

“The main issues we had with power units was due to the nature of how we control the engine and the boost pressure, and how we manage knock basically – which is the step to gain some more performance from this kind of engine,” he said.

“It is fair to say that when you are late, you are late on everything. So we maybe suffered a bit of lack of experience in how to deal with this situation.

“We had to be very cautious. We did not have at that time the proper software to prevent this kind of thing.

“But I am not worried about that one now. It is basically giving us some reliability confidence and also some performance confidence.”

Taffin believes the issues are resolved and that the team are ready to go full speed ahead at maximum performance. Renault Sport F1 have been very frank with their assessment as to where they are in the engine development cycle and that’s behind everyone else. They’ve made progress but Taffin said:

“It’s getting better, but until we win it’s not done,” he said. “It’s not because we are ahead of schedule that we have to review our plan and lower our targets.

“We will not be happy until we win a race.”

As of this weekend, winning is something Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel isn’t counting on but he says he isn’t ruling out being in the title hunt and many believe that Renault Sport F1 are doing some interesting things with their engine meaning that if they combination of their engine and Red Bull’s chassis can come on song, they well may be the fastest car on the grid…again.

 

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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.
  • jeff

    Goes to show how complex these engine systems are. Engine knock is early or pre-combustion, where the air/fuel mixture is ignited by itself due to intense heat w/o the spark from the spark plug, before the combustion chamber is fully closed.

    In a road car, this is rudimentary tuning 101; obviously some sort of calculation by Renault was off with all the ERS-to-PU integration, as Renault (French laissez-faire attitude jokes aside) would normally have handled the problem during dyno tuning.

    Still, I’m sure the technically-literate are going to have a field day with this one…