Ever since Formula One adopted its current engine regulations, engine manufacturers Mercedes-AMG, Ferrari, Renault and Honda have been fighting to create the most powerful, most efficient and most reliable powertrain in the field. You need all three to power a championship winning car, but having the edge in one area can make up for lacking in others. When it comes to raw grunt, each manufacturer has been trying to eclipse 1,000 horsepower. According to a new report from Auto Motor und Sport, Renault may just be the first.
There are some caveats. This is the first time an automaker has claimed to hit the four-figure mark with the current engine regulations. During the ‘80s, BMW claimed its M12 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four was making around 1,400 in qualifying trim. Likewise, Renault’s engine is only hitting the 1,000-horsepower mark in qualifying trim, and not consistently. According to Renault F1 team engine technical director Rémi Taffin, output depends on a number of factors like ambient temperatures. Still, if the team can achieve 1,000 horsepower even for a few laps, that might be enough to boost qualifying position by several places.
And Renault may simply be the first to publicly reveal its horsepower output. F1 teams are famously and understandably secretive. Ferrari or Mercedes may have already hit the number, simply holding their cards close to hide their advantage. Either way, this has been a long time coming. Ever since F1 ditched naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter V8s in favor of 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 hybrids, power has been creeping upward. The sound and complexity of the current engines may be debatable, but at least they have the numbers to show for it.