Category Archives: Engines

Formula One: Turning the Red Bull Racing Aston Martin story on its head

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Amongst the #ToroHondaRenaultMcLarenRosso hype during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, news of around Aston Martin increasing its involvement in Formula One with Red Bull Racing has started to solidify. Andy Palmer, Aston Martin CEO, when quizzed on the grid by Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle confirmed the business is keeping a watching brief on 2021 engine regulations, which should they fall favourably towards independent manufacturers, could lead to increased involvement of the brand. Should this be the case Palmer confirmed Aston Martin may seek to preemptt the regulation change by enhancing their visibility with Red Bull Racing possibly from as early as 2018.

This news comes at a time in which the media are speculating Red Bull’s long-term interest in Formula One may be dwindling, which has lead some observers to suggest a change of ownership of Red Bull Racing under the guise of Aston Martin. Whilst this is entirely possible, there are, in my opinion, a few to many creative leaps being taken for this outcome to be viable.

Firstly, lets address Red Bull or more specifically Dietrich Mateschitz’s diminished interest in Formula One. Red Bull entered F1 to sell a product, this objective is the same today as it was 30 years ago. In 2016 the Red Bull achieved more than $1,000M in media coverage from through Formula One. This far exceeds any investment the brand makes into the sport. With budget caps on the horizon, the business rationale for a marketing focused business to be involved with F1 will only increase. Should a $150M budget cap be achieved, Red Bull Racing can be assured of achieving this investment through existing sponsors, and prize funds. Red Bull stand to benefit from $1000M in free advertising.

2017 saw Aston Martin return to profit for the first time in over a decade. The business has stated ambitions around going public in the coming 5 years and are focused on expanding their automotive range to increase revenues. At this time, and in the mid term they are not a business capable of sustaining any form of Formula One engine development plan. Aston Martin Racing is a completely separate business to the Aston Martin which sponsors Red Bull Racing.

Returning to Dietrich Mateschitz. A serial entrepreneurr and self made billionaire. In recent years, he has seen the likes of McLaren diversify into the production of cars, and Williams create successful businesses in the application of their technology within a commercial environment. He is aware that the technical capability of the Red Bull Racing group is under utilised, something which will only increase under a F1 budget cap.  Projects such as Newey’s America’s Cup Project and the Aston Martin Valkyrie Hypercar project show an evaluation of ways in which the team can direct resources to other projects. Could this lead to an alternative direction for Red Bull Racing?

Rather than Aston Martin becoming title sponsor of Red Bull Racing, with a view to producing a power unit under the 2021 regulations. Could Red Bull be considering buying Aston Martin, supporting them in the acceleration of their automotive expansion plans, facilitating F1 power unit development, through their partnership with AVL, and using the proven brand power of Formula One allow Dietrich Mateschitz to evolve Aston Martin into a genuine competitor to the entire Ferrari Group.

Dietrich Mateschitz acquiring Aston Martin and reshaping his position in Formula One towards a Red Bull owned Aston Martin F1 Team, from a business perspective appears entirely more feasible than a company reporting $16M profit, having committed $550M to new road cars, suddenly investing $20M per annum in title sponsorship then paying to develop  an F1 engine.

All that being said, Red Bull, through offering half stories and snippets of information continue to dominate F1 news despite being unable to challenge for a world championship. The business continues to offer a master class in media manipulation. As in 2014, when F1 news was dominated by stories of Red Bull looking set to quit Formula One, Red Bull have an ability to create their own news to ensure they dominate the F1 headlines between the races.

Finally, despite quotes to the contrary, Red Bull Racing are very well aware that the best chance they have of securing a return to a championship challenging position is with a fully funded manufacturer. Talk of Aston Martin, in my opinion, is nothing more than a negotiating tactic around the terms under which the Volkswagen Group will enter Formula One.

Credit to Sean Bull for the fantastic livery creation supporting this article. 

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Formula One: No Mercedes power for McLaren in 2018

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Away from incredible on track performances this season, recent Formula One news has been increasingly fixated by the prospect of ‘divorce’ between Honda and McLaren, with a number of respected outlets and leading pundits suggesting the separation is already all but finalised.

Whilst frustrations around the on track performance of the McLaren Honda partnership are plainly visible for all to see, with senior representatives from McLaren doing little to calm stories, one key factor appears to have been forgotten. The FIA Sporting Regulations.

Within the FIA Formula One World Championship Sporting Regulations, all power unit manufacturers are required to submit a list of teams they will supply in the following season by May 15th.  Under this regulation both Honda and Mercedes have already informed the FIA of the teams which will be using their power units for 2018

No power unit may be used in a given Championship season unless the Power Unit Manufacturer supplying such power unit accepts and adheres to the following conditions.

Each of the Power Unit Manufacturers of an homologated power unit must :

i)  provide the FIA, before 15 May (or such other date as agreed in writing between all the Power Unit Manufacturers and the FIA) of the season preceding that in which such power units are to be supplied, with the list of teams (clearly identifying the appointed “works/factory” team, if any) to which a supply agreement has been concluded for the given Championship season ;

ii)  if called upon to do so by the FIA before 1 June (or such other date as agreed in writing between all the Power Unit Manufacturers and the FIA) of the season preceding that in which such power units were to be supplied:

T = 111-A/B-C

–  A = Total number of teams (including “works/factory” teams) having a supply agreement concluded for the given Championship season with a New Power Unit Manufacturer.

–  B = Total number of manufacturers of homologated Power Units for the given Championship season.

–  C = Total number of New Power Unit Manufacturers for the given Championship season.

provided that if the result contains a fraction then the fraction shall count as a full team (e.g. 11 teams divided by 4 manufacturers = 2.75, each manufacturer must, if called upon to do so by the FIA, supply at least 3 teams).”

Appendix 9 – FIA Formula One World Championship Sporting Regulations. 

Earlier today, confirmation was sought from both Mercedes and Honda as to the contents of the lists provided to the FIA in accordance with this regulation.

Honda stated their list submitted to the FIA documents Power Unit supply intentions for both Mclaren and Sauber. Mercedes confirmed their submission to the FIA references three teams, Force India, Williams, and the factory Mercedes team.

No provision is made within the Sporting Regulations around deviation from this commitment. With both Honda and Mercedes having stated intentions around 2018 it seems highly unlikely any change is planned or possible without the consent of all teams participating in the championship.

Formula One: Are Cosworth the solution to McLaren-Honda’s woes?

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On the eve of the 2017 F1 season McLaren Honda head into the third year of their partnership with little cause for optimism. Despite the FIA’s removal of the Power Unit development token system which previously limited manufacturers ability to modify / redesign technology, Honda solutions seemingly remain at odds with the F1 Hybrid era.

2017 pre-season testing saw Honda introduce an entirely new Power Unit, a fully integrated unit developed around the MCL32. In a bid to improve performance and resolve drivability issues which plagued the 2015 / 16 design, Honda engineers have taken inspiration from the solutions seen with their immediate competitors. This approach, in the short term at least, appears to have failed. McLaren have reported extensive issues with vibrations within the power unit limiting any ability to push for out right performance. Neither team nor engine manufacturer have been able to validate design concepts through pre-season testing and have minimal expectations around the team’s ability to complete a race distance let alone score points in the opening races of the 2017 season.

The situation is unsatisfactory for all parties involved.

In recent days it has emerged McLaren may have made preliminary enquiries towards Mercedes around future power unit supply, some media outlets going as far to suggest a mid season switch could be possible. The reality of this is highly unlikely, both from a commerical and technical perspective the strategy defies logic and any form of long term thinking.

McLaren maintain an ambition to compete for and win world championships. Using Williams Martini Racing as a prime example, despite access to the dominant power unit for the past three seasons, customer status with Mercedes limits their ability to challenge. This should not be the strategy McLaren seek or accept. It may resolve short term frustrations with partners, but it will not deliver world championships.

Instead McLaren may need to seek an alternative solution. It is understood Honda support the team and power unit development to the tune of $100 million per season. On the recommendation of McLaren, Honda could look to redirect this finance to a third party. The third party in question being Cosworth.

When the Hybrid F1 regulations were originally outlined in 2010, Cosworth, similar to Mercedes, dedicated significant resource to develop a new power unit for the sport. The intention had been for Volkswagen to badge the Cosworth power unit, however as the implementation of the new regulations grew nearer VW reneged on their F1 ambitions. This left Cosworth with a concept power unit 4 years in the making but no manufacturer budget to bring the power unit to the grid.

Cosworth have stated in previous years that with budget the power unit they developed could be on the grid within 6 months. They remain confident that the solutions they engineered would be competitive. In theory it would be possible for the Cosworth power unit to become the 2018 Honda F1 Power Unit. It is fair to say there would be a certain amount of pride to overcome between all parties involved, but ensuring future competitiveness may ease the short term pain.

To those who see the suggestion of Honda badged Cosworth Power Unit as the future of the McLaren Honda relationship as far fetched, take a look at the companies house registry for the list of directors at Cosworth. Top of this list you will find Mr Zak Brown, Executive Director of the McLaren Technology Group.

Formula One: Scuderia Toro Rosso switch to ExxonMobil

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Following the announcement that Red Bull Racing have entered into partnership with ExxonMobil from 2017 as the teams Fuel and Lubricant supplier, JWGP can confirm the partnership will extend to a supply agreement for Scuderia Toro Rosso.

At this time it is not clear if the supply agreement will include the use of ExxonMobil or associated businesses branding on the STR 12, but sources at Red Bull Racing have confirmed the supply partnership.

With Scuderia Toro Rosso returning to Renault power unit supply for 2017, following the 2016 campaign in which a 2015 Ferrari power unit was used, Italy’s second team is expected to make significant strides up the grid. Toro Rosso are yet to indicate how the 2017 power unit will be badged. It is understood the power unit has been made available under the same agreement as Red Bull Racing allowing the team to sell the naming rights for the Power Unit, as seen with Tag Heuer and Red Bull Racing. With performance improvements expected such naming rights could prove highly valuable to an existing team sponsor seeking to increase exposure.

Whilst unconfirmed, Renault Sport F1 are not expected to make any changes to their fuel and lubricant supplier TOTAL. The team have confirmed they have made provisions to homologate the 2017 Power Unit for 2 fuel and lubricant suppliers. Such a move will set in motion a separate Power Unit development programme between the Red Bull owned teams and the works Renault Team and could form the basis for an as yet unnamed engine manufacturer entering the sport through the back door….

Formula Student: Zero to 100 km/h in 1.5 second! A world record with an electric racing car.

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From 0 to100 km/h in 1.513 seconds: The student team from the ETH Zurich, which is supported by the BMW Group, has successfully broken the previous acceleration record for electric cars. Students of the ETH Zurich and Lucerne University developed the car and set the record during the preparatory phase of the Formula Student. The car reached a speed of 100 km/h within a distance of less than 30 metres on a military airbase near Zurich, breaking the world record of 1.779 seconds. Thanks to the use of carbon fibre materials, the car weights a mere 168 kilograms and features four self-developed wheel hub motors transferring 200 hp of power to the tarmac via four-wheel drive technology.

Thus, the team is ideally prepared for the forthcoming Formula Student Germany taking place on the Hockenheimring from 8 to 14 August 2016. For seven days, 115 teams from more than 25 nations will be competing against each other in their racing cars following a long period of development. In addition to bolides with combustion engines, 40 racing cars featuring an electric drive system will also be fighting for victory, which cannot be achieved by speed alone. Design, cost budgeting and the business model must also convince the jury of experts from industry and commerce.

Last year, the AMZ Racing Team from the ETH Zurich, which is supported by the BMW Group, was awarded second place in the overall ranking, making it one of the potential candidates for the podium this year, too.

Since the founding of the Formula Student in 2006, the BMW Group has been one of the main sponsors of the competition. Since 2010, the company has also supported young engineers as a team sponsor and will again put three teams from the Formula Student Electric (FSE) on the starting grid this year – municHMotorsport (Munich University), elbflorace (TU Dresden) and AMZ Racing (ETH Zurich).

In the process, the teams receive not only financial support, but also advice from BMW engineers and access to manufacturing technologies. For instance, on 28 July 2016, the BMW Group meets Formula Student Event will take place during the BMW Driving Experience in Maisach. In the course of this event, the teams have the opportunity to tune their cars down to the smallest detail and exchange ideas with their BMW Group mentors. They get final tips and tricks during driver training from proficient BMW Driving Experience instructors.

Moreover, the teams supported by the BMW Group receive comprehensive support in building and designing their self-developed racing cars. Employees acting as mentors are available to the students during the entire period.

Formula One: Honda & Indycar confirm multiyear extension

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Honda have announced a multiyear extension to the agreement that retains the manufacturer as an engine supplier to the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“We’re grateful for Honda’s longstanding partnership with INDYCAR the last 13 years,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Racing is a part of Honda’s DNA and its continued investment in the Verizon IndyCar Series – technically on the competition side, but also through sponsoring of events and additional activation – is instrumental to the success and continued growth of our sport.”

Honda has collected 217 Indy car race wins in more than two decades as an engine supplier and won 10 manufacturers’ championships, including six years when it served as sole supplier to the Verizon IndyCar Series. In addition, it has scored 10 victories in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Honda will be in competition with Chevrolet for the fifth consecutive season in 2016, with both manufacturers producing 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. Additionally, beginning in 2015, both Honda and Chevrolet developed aerodynamic bodywork kits for their respective teams – supplying a road course/street course/short oval aero kit and a separate kit for superspeedway tracks.

“In the 13 years that Honda has been a part of INDYCAR, we’ve had a great deal of success, both against strong competition from other auto manufacturers and as single engine supplier,” said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development. “Honda is pleased to be part of the Verizon IndyCar Series, as it provides both a technical challenge for our associates and a showcase for Honda products worldwide.”

Honda – through American Honda and its racing subsidiary, Honda Performance Development -began supplying engines to Indy car teams in 1994 in Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) competition. Honda joined the Verizon IndyCar Series as an engine supplier in 2003 and has been a valued manufacturer and partner ever since.

In addition to continuing as a manufacturer in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Honda retains title sponsorship rights for three events on the schedule: the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, which is the fourth race on the 2016 schedule, April 22-24; the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, July 29-31; and the Honda Indy Toronto, sponsored by Honda Canada, July 15-17.

Honda have elected to sustain its position within Indycar in addition to its commitment to Formula One with Mclaren, and the World Touring Car Championship. Intriguingly the engine specification used within Indycar mirrors the independent engine specification the FIA proposed as a low cost engine solution for Formula One in 2015.

 

 

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: 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: Revealed: Technical requirements of Formula One’s Alternative Engine.

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Following the FIA’s formal call for expressions of interest in the supply of an alternative engine for Formula One, the FIA have today outlined the technical requirements under which the  alternative engine should be developed.

Whilst no price for engine supply has been defined the FIA have requested this be as low as possible, suggesting price point will be a differentiating factor in any business award decision.

The engine configuration requirement is confirmed to be:

  • 2.5 Litre (or less) turbocharged V6, with a KW output greater than 640, which may be detuned to 530 in qualifying and race levels.
  • Total weight of the power unit being less than 135kg.
  • The FIA will impose no limits on Maximum RPM, engine durability or fuel flow.
  • The power unit solution will feature no hybrid power.
  • Hydraulics for the engine must be the same for all teams supplied.
  • The unit must be compatible with the standard F1 ECU and data logger.

Manufacturers expressing interest in candidacy to become sole supplier of the alternative engine supply will have freedoms around:

  • Number of turbochargers – 1 or 2
  • Turbocharges must be able to cope with the maximum boost pressure imposed by the FIA.
  • Freedom around cranktrain and valvetrain in all areas except crank length.
  • Freedom is give on the exhaust system, although a variable exhaust system is not permitted.

The technical specification goes to explain the financial boundaries of the submission which includes but is not limited to; all engine sub assembly, all PU pressure charging components (turbo), PU Waste gate and air inlet system, the fuel system and electrical components.

In addition candidate manufacturers must provide support of 5 personnel per team supplied at all race and test events, along with sufficient power unit supplies for up to 20 events and 5000 km of testing.

Candidates have until 17:00 CET November 23rd to register their interest and capability to meet these requirements with the required supporting documentation.

Formula One: FIA open calls for expressions of interest in the supply of alternative engines to F1

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The FIA have formally announced a  call for an expression of interest from candidates in becoming the exclusive supplier of the alternative engine to the existing competitors for the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Candidates have until November 23rd 2015 at 17:00 CET to register a formal expression of interest. Allowing only 10 days for this process suggests the FIA have a number of possible candidates in mind already.

This initial process, or request for information, is being completed to assure credibility of possible candidates with details on the financial status, capacity, capabilities, and client support ability, required in this first phase.

To review the call for expressions of interest document in full please follow this link.

The technical specification under which engine will be developed is not detailed in the brief and is available only upon request to the FIA. It is understood the specification is likely to be a 2.2 litre twin turbo configuration similar to that seen in Indycar.

It should also be noted that the request for expression of interest makes no comment on desired end cost of the power unit or development expectations around the power unit.

The FIA formally launching this stage of the process serves to demonstrate the importance the governing body is placing of the future of power unit development in Formula One. In advancing this strategy the FIA can serve to undermine current power unit costs and manufacturer control of the sport.