News and views on motorsports

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Eights And Tens

The 2006 Formula 1 technical regulations provide an allowance for certain teams to continue the use of V10 engines. This rule was originally provided for fiscally challenged teams such as Minardi that could not afford a supply of the latest V8s. The regulations state that:

"For 2006 and 2007 only, the FIA reserves the right to allow any team to use an engine complying with the 2005 regulations, provided its crankshaft rotational speed does not exceed a limit fixed from time to time by the FIA so as to ensure that such an engine will only be used a team which does not have access to a competitive 2.4litre V8 engine."

This has been a source of controversy as some have argued that the use of V10s, even after subjecting to rev limits will still prove more powerful than the new V8s. Lately, the Midland team (formerly Jordan Grand Prix) is supposed to have commissioned a study comparing the two engine formats that proves such assertions. Despite mandatory air restrictors and a rev limit of 16,500 RPM, the Cosworth V10 will still produce some 800 bhp. Thats about right I would have thought.

No doubt the V8s will be continously developed and by year end I should think they'd claw back a lot of the disadvantage. However, whatever limit they put on V10s, I think the V8s will suffer still in two respects. The first being torque and second driveability.

The idea is that a 2.4litre engine still suffers a torque disadvantage to a 3.0 litre engine. They may be able to claw back the power disadvantage by making the V8s rev ever higher (power being the rate of doing work) but torque is really a function of capacity. The use of air restrictors and rev limiters I should think would not change that.

The 2006 technical regulations ban all forms of variable intake and exhaust manifolds together with variable valve timing and lift. These technologies make the engine's power and torque curve stay constant or at least linear throughout the rev range. Without these I would imagine the V8s are tuned to maximum power and the delivery of that power will occur over a narrower rev range at or near the rev limits. In fact, some of the drivers testing the V8s this winter have made complaints about the power delivery. This is of course, mitigated by modern electronic control units, with some finely tuned gear ratios and vastly different camshafts.

However, very little can be done about torque. Whilst the torque disadvantage will not be apparent on the faster circuits like Spa (if there is a Belgium Grand Prix next year) with the exception of La Source and The Bus Stop but in places like Monaco where the engine potters along at extremely low revs, Toro Rosso will enjoy a huge advantage. They'll be able to punch out of hairpins a lot quicker than the V8s. In fact wherever the engine spends time in the midrange they'll have a grunt advantage. This includes a lot of the Tilke circuits with its numerous hairpins, slow corners and drag races.

If we assume that Red Bull will bring significantly more financing and technology into Toro Rosso and hence produce better aero and chassis, then the combined effect will be quite explosive. This is not necessarily a bad thing mind you for its time the lads at Faenza enjoyed some advantages.


f1 @ c.c.c.p. said...

i'm not a fan of the new engine rule. all these exceptions are just plain messy and stupid. i'm slowly losing faith in f1.

Qwerty said...

I agree with you on this one. I long for the days when any engine configuration could be used, whether its V8s, V10s, V12s or even Flat 12s. Plus all these restrictions are definitely not in the spirit of Formula 1.