Formula One: At Our Most Powerful?

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Mercedes AMG Petronas have revealed that the current era of power unit technology in Formula One is heading towards, if not is already, the most powerful the sport has witnessed.  In only the second year of the sports power unit regulations, Mercedes have confirmed the current 1.6 litre V6 Hybrid is up to 10% more powerful than the V8 units with KERS  they succeeded and match the power output of the V10 engine era.

This has been achieved despite fuel flow limits effectively halving the fuel rate per hour to power units. Such strides in power unit developments have been achieved through a focus on thermal efficiency, effectively minimising any waste (heat loss) in the power unit, every aspect of the power unit design in focused on maximised efficiency.

Increasingly power unit development is turning to fuel and lubricant partners such as Petronas to maximise performance. Over the course of the 2015 season Petronas trialed more than 50 fuel and lubricant solutions, working through over 65,000 litres of fuel for development purposes alone. Looking towards 2016 more than 40 new compounds are already being evaluated. So integral have fuel and lubricant solutions become to the performance of F1 power units, the specification used is unique to power unit cycle. When Mercedes introduced updated power unit’s mid season the fuel and solution from Petronas would only operate with this power unit solution. This complexity is achieved whilst ensuring 99% of the compounds used in the fuel are identical to those seen in fuel used in road cars.

Whilst some may argue that through the original turbo era seen in F1 we saw machines with output in excess of 1400BHP, and in the mid 2000’s we saw drivers lapping up 2-3 seconds per lap faster than than the current era, these were period’s of excess, with qualifying engines designed to last 50KM and tyre technology more relevant to a lab than a road. The success of the current F1 power unit regulations is the road relevance. The sporting regulations are focused on efficiency, a topic of greater relevance than ever to the world in which we live. When you check out a car in a showroom or online today one of the first things you check is the efficiency, be it fuel consumption or CO2e, these factors do influence the decisions we make when buying a car. In the FIA prescribing Power Unit technology to focus in these areas road car relevance is assured, and hopefully in the not too distant future the heavily boosted low capacity technology seen in F1 will make its way to our road cars. Efficiently.

Formula One: Scuderia Toro Rosso confirm Ferrari power unit supply for 2016

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Scuderia Toro Rosso and Scuderia Ferrari have reached an agreement that will see our team use the current Ferrari Power Unit  (2015 iteration) in the 2016 Formula One season.

On-track testing will begin in February, 2016 at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.
 

Formula E: Oliver Rowland to stand in for injured Nick Heidfeld

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Formula Renault 3.5 Champion Oliver Rowland has been announced to replace Nick Heidfeld for the third round of the FIA Formula E Championship in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The 23 year old British driver will partner Bruno Senna at the team while Nick Heidfeld recovers from minor hand surgery following an injury sustained during the Putrajaya ePrix.

Nick Heidfeld said: “During the Putrajaya ePrix, I damaged a ligament in my left wrist when the steering wheel snapped out of my hand. On the advice of my doctors, I have undergone an operation to repair it. Unfortunately this means that I will miss the next race in Punta del Este but I wish the team well and hope they return from Uruguay with a Christmas stocking full of points.”

Rowland, who set a new record of eight wins in the 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 Series season will join the Mahindra Racing Formula E Team for a simulator session before travelling to Uruguay for the ePrix. He will also take part in the official Formula E test following the Punta del Este ePrix to continue the development of the Mahindra Racing M2Electro racing car.

Oliver Rowland said: “After a successful year, I am excited to have this opportunity to extend my season further and race the M2Electro. Formula E represents many aspects of the future of motorsport and it gained huge traction in the first season. It has one of the most competitive driver line-ups and I am looking forward to some close racing among them and I hope to show what I can do. It will be a steep learning curve to get to grips with the new electric racing technology but I’m sure that once the visor goes down, we will have some fun. I intend to make the most of this opportunity and extract the maximum out of the car. Thank you to Mahindra Racing for the opportunity and I wish Nick Heidfeld a quick recovery.”

Dilbagh Gill, CEO and Team Principal of Mahindra Racing Formula E Team said: “We are delighted that we have Oliver in the car for the race in Uruguay. It is a huge shame that Nick will miss a race following his surgery and we have sought the very best young talent to continue the strong momentum that Nick has established with the team and the development of the M2Electro. Oliver is a driver of proven, record-
breaking skill and has exactly the drive and attitude we appreciate at Mahindra Racing. We wish Nick well and look forward to seeing him back behind the wheel in Buenos Aires.”

Formula One: CONFIRMED – Red Bull TAG Heuer with Ilmor support

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From the milliseconds that separate victory from defeat to the finely balanced and perfectly measured rhythm of a racing engine, in motorsport timing is everything.
As the curtain falls on the 2015 Formula One season and the sport gears up for next year’s challenge, the timing is right for Red Bull Racing to reveal that the team’s 2016 F1 car will race with a power unit carrying the name of motorsport’s most iconic timing brand – TAG Heuer.
The new partnership, which represents a shift away from F1’s conventional supply systems, will see TAG Heuer take up naming rights of the team’s power unit, which will be supplied by Renault. The new car will be christened the Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer RB12.
Deepening the relationship between the team and the legendary timing house, which can call on more than half a century of heritage at the cutting edge of motorsport, TAG Heuer will become the Official Timekeeper, Official Watch Partner and Team Performance Partner of the Red Bull Racing team from 2016 in a multi-year partnership.
Welcoming the new partnership, Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, said: “TAG Heuer and Red Bull are two transcendent brands which have both a passion for racing and a drive to do things differently, and this unique collaboration is further evidence of that. TAG Heuer has been an icon in the world of Formula One for many years and we’re delighted that they’ve chosen to continue their association with the sport by teaming up with us. Our shared values of innovation and a desire to stand out from the crowd make this one of the most exciting partnerships in F1. We are also pleased to see Renault confirm its long-term commitment to F1 and would like to thank them for their contribution to the team since 2007. Their technical partnership with Ilmor gives us confidence, and we look forward to the 2016 season.”
Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer and President of the LVMH Watch Division, added: “Formula One is deeply-rooted in TAG Heuer’s DNA, and Red Bull Racing is a young, dynamic and driven team, which perfectly fits with our marketing strategy. It will give TAG Heuer great visibility and allow us to make our partnership exciting, different and innovative. Our motto #DontCrackUnderPressure will be the guiding principle behind all our actions with the support of the Red Bull Racing team and its highly contagious enthusiasm.”

Formula One: Pirelli Confirm 2016 Tyre Regulations

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After its meeting in Paris, yesterday, the FIA World Motor Sport Council formally approved the new 2016 Tyre Regulations for Formula One.

NEW REGULATIONS

  • The new regulations will apply only to the slick tyres. The rules regarding intermediate and wet tyres remain unchanged.
  • With the introduction of the new ultrasoft compound (which uses purplemarkings) the total number of slick compounds rises to five.

PRE-RACE TYRE NOMINATIONS AND PREPARATIONS

  • In consultation with the FIA, Pirelli will decide in advance which three compounds can be used at each race, and communicate this information to the teams.
  • The total number of sets that can be used during practice, qualifying and racing remains the same as it is currently: 13.
  • Pirelli will nominate two mandatory race sets for each car. Furthermore, one set of the softer compound will have to be kept for use in Q3 only.
  • The two mandatory sets chosen by Pirelli can be of two different compounds, from the three that have been nominated for the race weekend. These sets will obviously be identical for each team.
  • The remaining 10 sets can be chosen by each team, from the three compounds nominated for the race weekend.
  • The teams will make their choices within a deadline set by Pirelli. They will communicate their choices to the FIA, which will in turn tell Pirelli how many tyres to produce. The choices for each car will remain secret until 2 weeks before the race. If a team does not meet the deadline, the choice will be made by the FIA.
  • Once the choices for each car have been made, the FIA will continue to assign the tyres randomly via a barcode, as is the case currently.
  • The choices made by each team can vary for each of its cars: so each driver within a team can have a different allocation.
  • The tyres will be distinguished by different coloured markings on the sidewalls, as is currently the case.

DURING THE RACE

  • Teams will still have to give back tyres according to a certain schedule, but they can decide which tyres to give back at the following times:

–       One set after the first 40 minutes of FP1
–       One set at the end of FP1
–       Two sets at the end of FP2
–       Two sets at the end of FP3

  • The two mandatory sets nominated by Pirelli cannot be given back during practice and must be available for use in the race. At least one of these two setsmust be used during the race – but the teams can decide which one.

The top 10 at the end of qualifying will still have to give back the set of the softer compound nominated for Q3, and start the race on the tyres with which they set their fastest time in Q2 (the same rule as is the case currently). All other drivers will be able to use the set that is saved for Q3 during the race.

Formula One: Renault Confirm 2016 Return to F1

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Following the September announcement of the signing of a Letter of Intent with Lotus F1 Team, teams at Renault continued to evaluate the possibility of a return to Formula 1. Particular attention was paid to competing successfully with its own team in a financially sound way starting in 2016.

“Renault had two options: to come back at 100 percent or leave. After a detailed study, I have decided that Renault will be in Formula 1, starting 2016. The final details supplied by F1’s main stakeholders gave us the confidence to accept this new challenge. Our ambition is to win–even if it will take some time,” said Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO, Renault.

As a full team, Renault will take maximum benefit from its victories. The payback as an engine supplier proved to be limited. The return on the investment necessitated by the new engine regulations and the return in terms of image were low.

Work continues on finalizing the terms of the acquisition of Lotus F1 Team in the shortest timeframe possible. The principal contracts were signed on December 3, 2015. Lotus F1 Team effectively stands out as the best partner. Renault and Lotus F1 Team have known each other for 15 years and were world champions together in 2005 and 2006.

Renault has had uninterrupted involvement in Formula 1 for almost 40 years. In 1977, it revolutionised the championship with the introduction of turbocharging, a technique that soon became the norm in the sport. Renault has since taken part in more than 600 grand prix, claiming 168 race wins, 12 Constructors’ titles and 11 Drivers’ crowns.

Renault’s decision to continue its involvement in Formula 1 is confirmation that it sees motorsport as an essential part of the brand’s identity. Formula 1 is the ultimate symbol of the passion for automobiles. Passion defines Renault as expressed by its brand signature, ‘Passion for Life’. In addition to attracting many customers, Formula 1 also fuels employee motivation. As the pinnacle of motor sport, Formula 1 demands technological and operational excellence. The championship serves as a showcase for the technological expertise that Renault dials into its products for the benefit of its customers.

Formula 1 is a means for Renault to accelerate development and remain at the forefront of the sport’s technological progress. It simultaneously allows Renault to build bridges between the advanced technologies seen in the world championship and its road cars, particularly in the fields of electric and hybrid vehicles. Consistent with its commitment to F1, Renault will develop its R.S. range by stepping up investment in order to be active on every continent and in even more segments with vehicles that meet the needs of their different markets.

Formula 1 serves to promote awareness of the Renault brand and its image in all its markets across the world. Formula 1 is one of the sports that enjoys the most media coverage worldwide thanks to a following on five continents, particularly in emerging markets. It attracts 450 million television viewers annually and its scope for growth is enormous thanks to opportunities founded on new technologies, social networks, video games, etc. that have yet to be fully exploited.

In January, Renault will provide more detailed information about the F1 programme ahead of the 2016 championship.

Formula One: Power Unit Development Freedom

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The FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) have reaffirmed commitments to the existing Formula One Power Unit regulations through a refresh in the development timeline manufacturers are required to work within.

Through the 2016 season existing manufactures will have the freedom to implement changes impacting up to 50% of the Power Unit solution.  A further 40% update will be available in 2017, 30% in 2018, and 24% in 2019. Whilst regulations were already in place around Power Unit developments from 2016-2019, changes announced during the WMSC meeting represent a significant increase in development freedom for engine manufacturers.  These changes should enable manufacturers such as Renault and Honda to address performance issues relative to Mercedes and Ferrari.

With current Power Unit technology exceeding performance figures from both the V8 and V10 era of the sport, this additional scope for development coupled with further technical regulations changes surrounding vehicle dynamics for 2017, the publically stated performance improvement targets of 4-5 seconds per lap appear to be well within the capabilities of teams.

Other than to stating Power Unit development as ‘in season’,at this time it has not been made clear how the manufacturer’s upgrades will be applied. However with the WMSC also approving Scuderia Ferrari’s request to supply an unnamed team (likely Scuderia Toro Rosso) with 2015 Power Unit configuration it can be expected ‘works’ and ‘customer’ teams will again run different iterations of Power Unit design through a season.

Any new manufacturers entering the sport through the 2016-2019 will have freedom to update up to 24% of the Power Unit design in year 1 and 50% in year 2 subsequent to their entry to the sport.

The final caveat to Power Unit upgrade regulations is that the WMSC have mandated FIA President, Jean Todt and the Representative of the Commercial Rights Holder, Bernie Ecclestone to make recommendations and decisions regarding a number of pressing issues in Formula One such as governance, Power Units and cost reduction. Mr Todt and Mr Ecclestone expressed their intention to establish conclusions on these matters by 31 January, 2016. These conclusions could shape the direction of future Power Unit Developments.

Formula One: GP2 transformation approved

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In the FIA World Motorsport Council meeting, held today in Paris, approval has been granted to the President to formalise the contract between the FIA and GP2 promoter to establish the FIA Formula 2 Championship.

This mover will complete the FIA’s single seater pyramid from Karting through the Formula One. The WMSC minutes do not reference a timeline to support the transformation, but 2016 is likely.

Any changes around the GP3 series have not been referenced.

F2 will likely maintain current GP2 technical regulations and retain it’s support race place in 10 rounds of the F1 championship.

Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore are the promoters and owners of the GP2 / GP3 series  (incidentally they partners also hold the rights to the GP1 name) . Both series are powered by Mecachrome engines, branded as Renault in the GP2 series. Mecachrome are one of the manufacturers participating in the FIA’s recent request for an expression of interest in alternative engine supply within F1. It is possible this engine design could play a part in future engine development plans for F2.

Formula One: Mclaren top the time sheets in Abu Dhabi

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McLaren’s driver Stoffel Vandoorne set fastest time today at the end of the 12-hour tyre test organised by Pirelli on the smooth surface of the Yas Marina circuit.
The session took place non-stop throughout the day, with the expected bright sun and warm temperatures starting out at around 24°C ambient (35°C asphalt) and reaching 28° and 40° respectively by lunchtime.

The session started with all the drivers running some laps on base tyre to confirm the set-up of the cars and using P Zero Red supersoft and P Zero Yellow soft tyres: the nominated choice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend.

Testing with the prototype tyres (new ultrasoft compound and new constructions both front and rear) started around one and a half hours into the session. The Teams tested several different potential variations of the new ultrasoft compound, from which one will eventually be selected.
Prototype tyres were not marked with any colours or other visible markings, while base tyres carried the usual colours on sidewalls.

The test was ‘blind’: neither the drivers nor the Teams knew which kind of tyre specification they were testing. During the test, the teams were not allowed to try new parts or change any other components, keeping the focus on the tyres. With its smooth surface, consistent temperatures, and wide variety of technical corners, Abu Dhabi was a perfect venue in which to assess most key aspects of tyre behaviour.

The session started at 9am local time and went on till nearly 9pm with no lunch break. This made it the longest single-day Formula One group test in the sport’s history.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “We had one shot when it came to testing tyres for next season, and we can be satisfied by what we’ve achieved in this test, even if we have to fully analyze the data. We’ve tested different versions of the new ultrasoft compound for 2016, which was one of the targets for this session. The ultrasoft’s target for 2016 is to introduce a compound softer than the supersoft and mainly designed as agressive choice for street circuits: with better performance than the latest version of the supersoft tyre and faster degradation, in order to allow the Teams to take a more aggressive approach to race strategy.

Whether this will produce more pit stops, or any difference in strategies, it’s too early to say for now. We will fully analyse our data and team telemetry once we get back to base. But it seems we are heading in the right direction: the ultrasoft is expected to offer more possibilities for certain races.

We also tested some different constructions for both front and rear tyres.

Fastest times of the day:
Driver Team Time Laps
Vandoorne McLaren 1m44.103s 99
Raikkonen Ferrari 1m44.456s 56
Ericsson Sauber 1m44.480s 50
J. Palmer Lotus 1m44.568s 90
Vettel Ferrari 1m44.940s 56
Wehrlein Mercedes 1m45.605s 107
Ricciardo Red Bull 1m45.805s 57
Verstappen Toro Rosso 1m45.849s 54
Hulkenberg Force India 1m45.852s 71
Bottas Williams 1m45.940s 103
Kvyat Red Bull 1m46.309s 48
Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 1m46.995s 56
Fong Sauber 1m48.439s 57
Celis Jr Force India 1m48.545s 65
Haryanto Manor 1m49.593s 56
King Manor 1m49.661s 59

For reference the times set during this session are comparable to those set in FP1 during the Abu Dhabi GP weekend, during which only Mercedes set faster lap times. At this time it is not clear to what extent the tyres may have improved laptimes, or if a “cliff” with the ultrasoft compound has been identified.