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V8 Engines: The power units of modern Formula 1

Tarish Bhatt
Editor's Pick
1.25K   //    01 Jul 2011, 11:28 IST

The Formula 1 teams have spent millions of dollars in making the Formula 1 car faster and faster. They have spent millions of dollars in upgrading the aerodynamics of the car. Before and after each race we hear the teams coming up with new front wings, new rear wings and stufsf like that. The aero parts of a Formula 1 car always remain in limelight and rightly so because today’s Formula 1 era is an aerodynamic era. Even though today formula 1 is dominated by the aerodynamics still the engines are the most important and integral part of Formula 1.

From past two weeks or so we are hearing that from 2014 Formula 1 will be switching from V8 engines to V6 turbocharged engines and the V8 engines will be banned from than onwards. Let’s know something about the current power units of Formula 1 i.e. the V8 engines. Since the beginning Formula1 has used wide variety of engines like the V12 engines, super charged engines and many more. However, often the formula 1 engine’s capacity have been limited sometimes to reduce the cost and sometimes to make the sport eco-friendly.

Over the past years Formula 1 engines have faced various regulations, different manufacturers have come up with different ideas and there have been times FIA has used its wisdom to limit the power of formula 1 engines. Currently, Formula 1 uses a 2.4 liter V8 engine which produces 224 kilowatts or 300 BHP per liter of energy. The energy produce by the modern Formula engine is way higher than energy produce by most of the internal combustion engines.

The modern formula engine regulations have stated from 2006 and they will remain in affect till 2014, as after that the teams will make a switch to V6 turbocharged units. In this very era companies like Ferrari, Mercede, Renault, BMW, Toyota and Honda supplied engines to the Formula 1 teams. However, BMW, Toyota and Honda withdrew from the sport because of the recession and after that the V8 engine suppliers were limited to four i.e. Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Cosworth with made a comeback to the sport in 2010.

The engines from 2006 were made much more compact and advanced. The FIA made it mandatory that from 2006 the engines should be 90° V8 and the capacity of the engines should be 2.4 liters. The engines should have a minimum stroke of 39.7 mm with a maximum circular bore of 98 mm. FIA also said that the engines should have two circular inlet and exhaust valves in each cylinder. FIA also revised the weight of the engine and made the minimum weight of the engine 95 kg or 209 pounds.

Although the V8 engines are in effect from 2006 but after its introduction some more variations have been done on the engine regulations. FIA has introduced same changes in the V8 engines and freezing the engine development is one such rule. In 2007 FIA banned engine development in order to reduce the development cost. Because of the ban the Formula 1 teams used same engines in 2007 and 2008 which they used in 2006. Due FIA’s ban the RPM of the engines were also limited to 19.000 in 2009 FIA further reduced the rpm to 18,000.

In order to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of the engines FIA allocated just 8 engines to a single car for a Grand Prix season. If the driver uses any more engines than the allocated one he is now penalized 10 places on the starting grid. As this rule came into effect FIA loosened its engine development ban and allowed the teams to improve their engines in the middle of the season with FIA’s permission in order to increase the reliability of the engines.

The engine manufactures like Ferrari and Mercedes took full advantage of this rule and improved their engines not only for reliability but also to increase the power of their 2.4 liter V8 power units. FIA further does some more relaxation in its engine development rule in order to make the engine suppliers match the power of Mercedes engines. The Mercedes V8 engines are the most powerful V8 engines in Formula 1 now a day. None of the engine manufacturers i.e. Ferrari, Renault and Cosworth is matching the power which is produced by the Mercedes power units.

The V8 power units will be seen for just two more years after this season as the sport is switching to more fuel efficient and eco-friendly power units. From 2014 the Formula 1 teams will be using the V6 1.6 liter turbocharged engines. The V8 engines are the popular engines which the sport had over the time period. Many of the Formula 1 teams and the people opposed the switching may be because of the reliability or because of the power factor. But, till the time V8 engines are present in Formula 1 , enjoy its sweet sound and music.

2011 Engines manufacturers and customers

Ferrari: Ferrari F1, Torro Rosso, Sauber F1
Mercedes: Mercedes GP, McLaren F1, Force India
Renault: Lotus Renault F1, Red Bull, Team Lotus
Cosworth: Williams F1, Virgin Racing, HRT F1

Tarish Bhatt
A complete sports buff, you name the sport and I am there! A Formula 1 fanatic and big fan of Narain Karthikeyan, Adrian Sutil, Somdev Devvarman and Hugh Jackman!
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