• Dec 6, 2010
In less than a week, the FIA could vote in a new engine for the 2013 Formula One season, and the smart money is on a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder to replace the current 2.4-liter V8s.

BBC Sport reports that the downsized engine is an attempt to mirror the mills used in road cars and increase consumer awareness of fuel conservation.

The FIA wants a 50% increase in fuel efficiency, a 10,000 RPM limit and will allow a combination of compound turbos and KERS to keep output somewhere between 600 and 750 horsepower.

Naturally, some teams, owners and principles are against the move, including both Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone seems to be one of the staunchest critics, saying "We have a very good engine formula. Why should we change it to something that is going to cost millions of pounds and that nobody wants and that could end up with one manufacturer getting a big advantage?"

The FIA is expected to vote on the measure this Friday.

[Source: BBC Sport]


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  • 60 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why do we need to be reminded of fuel consumption when we (don't really) watch F1? F1 cars are different form road cars, that's why they're interesting.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The whole point in racing is to be technologically relevant. low displacement, high output, V8 engines are not relevant to the consumer because you don't see those in the everyday car. However, it is possible to see a 1.6 liter turbo charged 4-cylinder in a road going car. Sure F1 cars are nothing like production cars, but the relevancy comes from the engineering, suspensions, engines and safety. All these technologies can be pulled from racing and implemented into a production car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        iKing, OK, I can see an argument that relevancy to the audience is worthy in racing tech....but a small V8 is not any less relevant than open-wheel, carbon-fiber everything, single seaters, racing tires, 18000 rpms, engine rebuilds after each use, etc. There is nothing directly relevant to my road cars and I don't expect there to be. Tech trickles down regardless of configuration of the engine.

        Changing thins up in F1 is probably smart just to keep it interesting, such as it is. I think it's hilarious for them to try to sound politically correct about fuel consumption.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ummmm, this is silly. Its a race, who cares for fuel economy? What about Nascar engines? They get between 4-6MPG.
        • 4 Years Ago
        4 to 6 mpg is actually better than F1 engines consumption, even though they have similar hp ratings, not to mention that F1 cars are much lighter. BTW, I don't watch NASCAR at all - still, it's not the engines that prevent me from doing it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Fuel economy is very important in F1. This past year there was no refueling allowed, so teams with the best fuel economy could start the race with less fuel on board (and therefore be lighter off the line).

        In previous years it has had a big impact on strategy, as teams decided how much fuel to put in the car at each pit stop and drivers tried to stretch their time between pit stops.
      • 4 Years Ago
      btw the engine on the picture is this insane bmw construction from 1985:

      http://www.bmw-power.de/Service/Motor_Klassik/06-2003_m10_F1/Formel1_Turbo.html
      [Text in German, sollte man mal gelesen haben für die, die es verstehen...]

      "After a 1400hp qualification lap, the connecting-rod was widened 1 mm"

      • 4 Years Ago
      Again game with numbers, but we should not think about number of cylinders, displacements and rpms. Everything in F1 game is one and only - money! Just the point is who at particular moment is more powerful to dictate any change. Obviously right now it's not Barnie (I personaly like this), nor yet is Ferrari/Mercedes (again my admirations). Anyway, regarding displacement I remember Schumi began his career killing V10s with his V8 Benetton/Ford. Wasn't it funny? Or what about many years ago when inline fours turbo were dominated by Renault? So, there gona be a lot of entertanment for the spectators, it's totaly different story where the money will go...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Renult F1 engines at that time were V6s
      • 4 Years Ago
      seriously how hard can it be? Several of the teams were around in the 80's and know how to do it. And making a turbo 4 isn't exactly hard. besides those old turbo 4s sounded so much better than the current engines.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If it was really about fuel efficiency - wouldn't the better approach would be to directly control fuel consumption by reducing fuel tank size and limiting the number of fuel stops?

      Manufacturers will try to pump as much fuel and air through the new 4-cylinder engines as possible to produce as much power as possible. That is contrary to efficiency.
        • 4 Years Ago
        FIA races are not long enough to make fuel stops. They only bit to change tires (which they have to do at least once) and change body parts.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What kind of MPG do all the hundreds of trucks used to shuttle the teams and their gear around the globe get?????
      • 4 Years Ago
      Interesting...I would have guessed they would have made a more gradual move to V6's first before going all the way down to 4. As long as they keep the power output up, 4-cyls are capable of making 800+ hp as shown by some of the beastly Rallycross cars out there, so hopefully they don't stifle that too by limiting hp to a unhealthily low number.

      What's the rev limit in F1 now? 10krpm seems pretty low, especially since smaller displacement engines don't like to make power until they're higher up in the revs.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Its not the total displacement that limits the revs, its the individual cylinder displacement.
        • 4 Years Ago
        So develop a multimillion dollar V-6, that they know will be replaced in a few years by a multimillion dollar I-4? Good strategy.

        This isn't a production based series. The engines they develop are huge investments. That was the joke a couple of years ago. They went from a V-10 to a V-8 to "save money". The process to develop the V-8 (that was approaching 21k rpm before the limit) cost way more money they to keep the V-10. They will never make that mistake again.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Redline:

        More specifically, it's the stroke length that limits maximum engine speed. Since a longer stoke at the same rpm means higher mean piston speed, the engine may encounter issues such as exceeding the rods' maximum stress tolerence, or the piston outrunning the flame front as it descends.

        The maximum engine speed may also be limited by the valve spring rate. If a valve cannot close fast enough, it might contact the piston, causing significant damage.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Back to the future. Brabham BWM ran 1.5 liter turbo 4 cylinders almost 30 years ago. Made significantly more than 1000HP in qualifying mode. This is far from the first time in the F1 era that 4 cylinders will be used.
      • 4 Years Ago
      adrenalnjunky has got it.

      Without "relevance" to road technology, the racing bureaucrats can't bill the shareholders for hundreds of millions of dollars for an F1 racing program. Furthermore, if the manufacturers do not believe they are developing road car technology, they can't afford to lose b/c it's too damaging to the brand. Every season there will be 10 times as many losers as winners. If the manufacturers can't afford the negative marketing associated with losing, F1 can't have major manufacturers in the sport. Imo the solution is simple. Get rid of the prima donnas at the road car manufacturers and allow racing-only corporations. Use the TV money to keep the teams funded and use the franchise system to strictly police profit-margins and financial stability. Racing teams who can't manage their profit margins and their cars will be ejected for more competent team owners.

      Scuderia Ferrari should be Scuderia Ferrari not the FIM-lobby for Fiat SpA and the Italian government.

      As far as fuel efficiency is concerned, the engine discussion is a red herring. If they still want 600-700hp, they aren't going to get significant fuel economy improvement from the engine. The economy improvements will come from KERS (dumb, dangerous idea for racing) or from deleting the airplane wings that push the car to the ground. Since aero wash makes overtaking nearly impossible, I'd be really happy to see the wings get deleted. I've heard rumors that F1 wants to move to ground effects rather than aero wings, but I'm not terribly confident in their ability to make a sport that is fun to watch.

      A new engine formula is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. F1 needs a serious overhaul before things can be improved in the long-term.
      • 4 Years Ago
      There should be some variability in F1 design.
      2.0 liter V10, or 1.0 liter inline 5-turbocharged.
      Would be way more interesting to watch & listen to.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "BBC Sport reports that the downsized engine is an attempt to mirror the mills used in road cars and increase consumer awareness of fuel conservation."

      setting aside the ridiculous notion of an automotive racing league lecturing anyone about fuel conservation, maybe it would be easier to "increase consumer awareness" if F1 wasn't 1) the province of extremely wealthy people, and 2) they actually held races somewhere other than oil-soaked regions of the Middle East.
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