New Game In Formula 1 Means More Energy Recovery And Smaller Engines

Formula 1 took a gigantic technological turn for 2014 and it will translate into more electrification of those race cars.

Infiniti, technical partner of the Infiniti Red Bull Racing team, explained all the changes this year are big, but this – without question – is the big one. The 2.4-liter V8 engine F1 has used since 2006 has been retired and is replaced with a 1.6-liter V6 unit, featuring direct injection, a turbocharger and a limit of 15,000 rpm, down from 18,000 rpm in 2013.

According to Infiniti, despite the smaller engine, 2014 isn’t expected to see any shortfall in horsepower thanks to an uprated KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) and the addition of a second energy recovery system.

The KERS motor-generator (aka MGU-K) can supply 120 kilowatt rather than the 60 kilowatt of the old system. More significantly the MGU-K can release up to 4MJ per lap. That’s 10 times as much as was allowable in 2013 and means KERS will be active during most of each laps either recovering or releasing energy.

While the MGU-K can release 4MJ per lap, it can only recover 2MJ. In the case of Infiniti, any other energy recovered will come from the second energy recovery system. The MGU-H (K for Kinetic, H for Heat) is part of the turbocharger assembly and recovers heat energy from the flow of exhaust gases. Infiniti explained it will serve several functions: preventing the turbo from over-speeding (i.e. replicating the function of the waste gate on a conventional turbo), negating turbo-lag by keeping the turbocharger spun-up, and feeding excess energy into either battery storage or directly to the MGU-K.

Taken together, the 2014 complete energy recovery system duo will provide 10 times the energy 2013 KERS were allowed to and will supply a motor delivering twice as much power.

More recovered energy means more energy storage, which means a bigger battery pack. It’s now required by the rules that the batteries pack weigh between 20-25 kilograms. It will also be necessary to place the battery in the center of the car, under the fuel cell, as one coherent unit.

More technical details are expected to be released closer to the first race of the season.