In 2014 Formula 1 will enter a new era. After three years of planning and development, the most significant technical change to hit the sport in more than two decades is introduced. Engine regulations form the major part of the coming revolution, with the introduction of a new generation of Power Units that combine a 1.6 liter V6 turbocharged engine with energy recovery systems that will dramatically increase efficiency by harvesting energy dissipated as heat in the exhaust or brakes.

The maximum power of the new Power Unit will exceed the output of current V8 F1 engines however fuel efficiency will be radically improved. With only 100kg permitted for the race, the new units will use 35% less fuel than their predecessors.

After a seven-year period during which engine specifications were frozen, the new regulations due to come into effect in 2014 will see engine makers play a central role in the cars’ overall performance. Renault’s new Power-Unit will test the limits of technology and energy recovery within the new regulations.

The countdown to 2014 is already well under way as the Renault Sport F1 engineers turn their attention to the development of what is termed a ‘power unit’ that combines a downsized turbocharged engine with two electric motors to recover braking and exhaust heat energy.

Downsized internal combustion engine
– Switch from a V8 to a V6 architecture
– Cubic capacity reduced by one-third from 2.4 to 1.6 liters
– Turbocharging (single-stage compressor), plus engine torque capped at 15,000rpm for a power output of approximately 550 horsepower

New ‘Energy Recovery System’ (ERS): kinetic energy (ERS-K) and exhaust heat energy (ERS-H) is recovered by two electric motor-generator units named MGU-H and MGU-K.


A double-restriction concerning fuel

  • The amount of fuel that can be used during races has been reduced: the maximum quantity of fuel that may be carried by the car during a race will be reduced to 140 liters. Energy management will become a major factor of race strategies.
  • Fuel flow reduced: the maximum fuel flow rate will be reduced to 140 liters/hour, making optimization of every gram of fuel vital for cars to go as fast as possible on a given quantity of fuel.

A double restriction concerning the flow of electrical energy

  • The amount of energy that can be recovered during each lap has been reduced
  • The amount of energy that can be restored has also been reduced.

Development costs have been limited and the number of engines each driver can use in the course of the season has been further capped: five per driver in 2014, then four per driver from 2015 (compared to eight per driver at the moment). The technologies and materials employed must be similar to those used for production engines.

Downsizing and turbocharging

Turbocharging enables a high proportion of the power to be recovered despite the lower maximum revs limit and the smaller cubic capacity which have a direct impact on the air that flows into the engine. To compensate for the smaller cubic capacity, turbocharging permits the recovery of some of the energy wasted as heat in the exhaust gases to drive the turbo. This energy is then used to compress the intake air (compressor) and increase the pressure inside the cylinders. However, the efficiency of the turbo produces more energy than is necessary to compress the intake air. So, to clear this excessive energy and prevent the turbo from spinning too fast, all turbocharged engines are equipped with a waste gate.

Electrification and double energy recovery system:

The considerable energy contained in exhaust gases as they exit an engine equates to almost 55 percent of the energy provided by the fuel (see “Energy is never lost…” sidebar). This is a huge loss. In the case of the 2014 power unit, however, the motor-generator unit (MGU-H) mounted on the turbo will permit a proportion of this otherwise wasted thermal energy (eliminated via a ‘waste gate’) to be recovered and converted into electricity. This electricity is then stored in the battery or used by the other motor-generator unit (MGU-K) to drive the car. This system will allow the MGU-K to be used for practically an entire lap. This system is known as ERS-H (Energy Recovery System – Heat).

An ERS-K (Energy Recovery System – Kinetic) twice as powerful as today’s KERS and capable of releasing stored energy for 34 seconds per lap Under braking, the kinetic energy of a racecar is dissipated by the brakes in the form of heat. The regulations allow a proportion of this energy to be transformed into electricity via the MGU-K motor generator unit connected to the crankshaft of the internal combustion engine.

This motor-generator unit will be capable of recovering 2MJ (Mega Joules) and delivering 4MJ per lap, which equates to a use for approximately 34 seconds per lap (as opposed to 6.5s/lap in the case of today’s KERS). The MGU-K will be capable of delivering peak power of 120 kilowatts (more than 160 horsepower). This system is known as ERS-K (Energy Recovery System – Kinetic).

Energy is never lost; it is merely converted into another form

The efficiency of a conventional internal combustion engine is approximately between 25 and 30 percent in optimal conditions of use. This means that 70 percent of the energy provided by the fuel combustion is lost in the form of heat, either via the car’s radiators (exchange of heat between the engine block and the cooling fluids) or, more significantly, via the exhaust gases.

“Improving the energy efficiency of an engine entails transmitting as much of the energy produced as possible to the wheels mechanically and re-using as much of the energy resulting from the fuel’s combustion as possible. The aim of the new regulations is effectively to increase combustion efficiency thanks to the combination of downsizing, turbocharging and the recovery of the energy contained in exhaust heat (ERSH) and lost as heat under braking (ERS-K) and then reusing this energy as electricity.” Rob White (Deputy General Manager and Technical Director, Renault Sport F1)


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.
  • JasonI

    The more I learn about these engines, the less I like them.

    • Mr. Obvious

      What’s not to like? : is it the fact that these power units will produce the same power as current package, or just do it with 1/3 less fuel? I’m confused.

  • Rooney

    Excuse my language. But the new engine sounds like a vaccum cleaner masturbating.

    • Bambi

      Wow, that’s hawt!!! MGFU-H indeed!

  • wchrisg

    IF they weren’t running to lap time before they are now. Why reduce the energy recovery and discharge?

  • Rob

    Truckers try to conserve energy by the use of good driving techniques. Their employers just do not understand when they “blow” “injuns”.”Turbo over speed in the Piranesi is just one more problem to overcome for the poor soles! Admittedly expensive problems!
    But Truckers are aided, especially on the continent, by ingenious devises that use truck generated electricity to aid the braking systems that really help them when they are going down mountain roads with heavy loads, so technology can help! F1 drivers are treated likewise no doubt but with some understanding if they have come within an ace of glory and it has not ended well! Gut wrenching no doubt
    F1 is going to use similar energy devises as the Truck Owners but in their case to make a smaller engine great and I think that is a very good move as it WILL soon filter down to the road cars.
    However: I would not like to think that the “Brawnier” F1 type of driver would have to “Pussy Foot” around to much to conserve their meagre five engines worth just when they would like to “Press on” and do their race winning. We have to admit that a lot of the “good stuff”, the good old bit of occasional, there is no substitute for, cannot be avoided, “Gung Ho” along with the spirit of “I have done this before: Trust me” has been replaced by “Yes! Yes! You have no need to tell me that!”, “What?! You want me to slow down now?! “Strewth Cobber, really? What—- now—- at this stage of the race?! You invaluable and trusted rule makers just have to realise that the boys want to race properly and now and again an engine is just going to go “pop” when the heat is on and another one won’t! That one driver might just be a little better at not hitting the wrong resonant frequency than another one. In that fraction of a second that it takes to win or lose a race! That is what the drivers are there for and for that matter what a rev limiter is for! If an engine is blown to bits that is what the race engineers and designers get their pleasure from: looking at all the bits and then making them better! They could do with out it but it goeth thus with the territory! It is not so bad these days with all the 3D Scanners, CNCs, Super PCs and all the High Technology, not to mention all the brains and education that is at hand! My request would be: have a look at the occasional bad days end results and if the boys have really, really tried to get their Chargers “Home” just give them the benefit of the doubt or a not insurmountable penalty if their cases are “meritis shrugie shoulderus” Let the boy have another engine to play with! Meeting with the Stewards is quite a daunting process I would imagine and one the competitors of a team may well like avoiding really; I do not think that they would do it on purpose!
    Talking of penalties: if a driver gains a place buy a bit of naughtiness could the Stewards not order him to give the place up immediately, even give up two places if necessary as the drive through penalties seam to ruin many a good “Dust up” in most cases. I would say that many a steward has wished he could have hade a choice of what penalty to hand down. Mind you the decision/penalty would have to be made promptly or the man could be another two or more places up the road in no time at all! So: back to it! Everyone is trying to improve the breed, enjoy their racing, trying not to spend piles of money on machinery, doing the stewarding because it just has to be done, congratulating the fine marshalling, pointing at naughty boys, helping teams with the clever scrutinizing, giving out kind helpful advice and encouragement, congratulating an exciting and “cool” performance, remarking on: “I have never seen anyone pass anyone there before!” “Phew!” and so on. Also reflecting on the sort of things that happen after an exciting and safe days racing. Yes: I think the job is a good un!
    Please carry on taking the heat and the money so thus entertaining us. Thank you one and all that are involved in F1. Rob.