Turbocharging and advanced hybrid tech coming to Formula 1 for 2014


January 24, 2014

The cars' exhaust system will change from a two-pipe setup to a single pipe, which must be angled upwards to prevent exhaust flow from being used for aerodynamic effect

The cars' exhaust system will change from a two-pipe setup to a single pipe, which must be angled upwards to prevent exhaust flow from being used for aerodynamic effect

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Unlike “trickle down economics” which forgot to trickle down, Formula One has been known to develop race technology that has meandered its way into the mainstream in consumer form. McLaren’s carbon fiber monocoque, albeit an expensive design innovation reserved for high end exotics, was the direct result of F1 engineering. For the 2014 season, new hybrid technologies and requirements designed to make F1 racing more energized and eco-friendly are being introduced.

For 2014 not only will technology and energy recovery systems play an integral role in the car’s power makeup, but the engine size itself will be significantly reduced. In 2013, F1 teams were allowed a 2.4-liter naturally-aspirated V8 engine with power output of 750 bhp, but for the 2014 season, engines will lose two cylinders and almost a liter of displacement. At 1.6 liters, the new turbocharged V6 engines will generate 600 bhp, down 150 hp from the previous season. However, the loss of power through the gas powerplant will now be subsidized by new Energy Recover Systems (ERS).

The new ERS system for F1 is a next generation uptake on the previous Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). For those unfamiliar with KERS, it involves capturing waste energy during braking, which is then transformed into electrical energy. When activated, energy stored in a small capacitor-like device provided teams with a sort of “electric nitrous oxide” shot to the tune of 60kW (80 bhp) for up to 6.67 seconds per lap. With the new ERS system for 2014, drivers will not only have access to longer power bursts of 33 seconds, but double the power to the tune of 120 kW (160 bhp). An “electronic rear brake control system” will also be introduced into all cars in order to cater for the extra power generated by the ERS system during braking.

The ERS system will also employ not one but two energy recovery sources. Regenerative braking technology for the season will remain relatively the same with minor updates. The Motor Generator Unit - Kinetic (MGU-K) in partnership with the Energy Store (ES), takes braking and heat energy from the brake rotors during the race, then converts it back out into the system in the form of that 160 hp electric burst through the generator unit. One of the main drawbacks to this system is that in the event of a breakdown, teams would lose a significant chunk of available power. Unlike V8 systems from last year, where teams still had reasonable power to continue and remain competitive, the loss of KERS and 160 hp in 2014 would most likely translate into a DNF (did not finish).

But all is not lost, as there is another ERS device on board to supplement the power-hungry diet. The second addition for 2014 is the introduction of a thermal capture device. The similarly named Motor Generator Unit - Heat (MGU-H), attached directly to the turbocharger shaft, captures exhaust heat and coverts it, like the kinetic system, into electrical energy. This capturing device has the ability to dump power straight into the system on demand or store it in the Energy Store for later use. When activated, the MGU-H gives drivers another electric power shot to the drive wheels via the dedicated generator unit. And unlike the MGU-K, the thermal recovery unit can provide unlimited supplemental power throughout the race. For 2014, Formula 1 has limited energy recovery from the MGU-K to 2 megajoules (MJ) per lap with the ability to release stored energies to a maximum of 4 MJ per lap.

Another fancy power management trick is the way in which the MGU-H thermal unit manages turbo speed. Contrary to a conventional turbocharger system where a wastegate is used to vent out excess engine pressures derived from the turbocharger, the new unit actually controls the speed of the turbocharger impeller. The ability to speed up or slow down the turbo allows teams to not only better manage wastegate pressures in the engine but to spin up the turbocharger low in the rev cycle. As boost is enabled sooner, power comes on quicker, and that power procrastination thing known as turbo-lag essentially disappears from the equation.

Other technical changes and challenges for teams this year will include a fuel limit of 100 kg (220 lb) per race. For 2013, teams on average used around 160 kg (353 lb) during a normal race. This means that teams will need to carefully consider where and when the ERS system is engaged. Since hybrid technology brings with it the unfortunate side effect of weight gain, Formula 1 teams will now be able to plump up their cars from a minimum weight of 642 kg (1,415 lb) to 690 kg (1,521 lb). The car’s exhaust systems will also change from a two-pipe setup to a single pipe, which according to F1, “must be angled upwards to prevent exhaust flow from being used for aerodynamic effect.” The entire exercise should be interesting to follow, to see how teams react to the new hybrid technologies and whether or not faster laps will be a result.

According to Renault, a typical lap using the new ERS systems will look something like this:

“Under acceleration the internal combustion engine (ICE) will be using its reserve of fuel. The turbocharger will be rotating at maximum speed (100,000 rpm). The MGU-H, acting as a generator, will recover energy from the exhaust and transfer it to the MGU-K (or battery). The MGU-K, which is connected to the crankshaft of the ICE, will act as a motor and deliver additional power to pull harder or save fuel, dependent on the chosen strategy. At the end of the straight the driver lifts off for braking for a corner, at which point the MGU-K converts to a generator and recovers energy from the braking event. Under braking the rotational speed of the turbo drops due to the lack of energy in the exhaust which leads to turbo lag. To prevent this lag, the MGU-H acts as a motor for a very short time to instantaneously accelerate the turbo to its optimal speed, offering the driver perfect driveability.”

Engine development will also be frozen during the season, and only five Power Units will be permitted per driver for the year. The 2014 Formula One season begins March 14 in Melbourne, Australia.

Sources: Renault, Formula One

About the Author
Angus MacKenzie Born on the cold, barren Canadian plains of Calgary, Alberta, Angus MacKenzie couldn’t decide between marketing, automotives or an entrepreneurial path - so he chose all three. With an education in automotives and marketing, Angus has rebuilt the carburetor on his 1963 Rambler Ambassador twice, gotten a speeding ticket in an F430 once, and driven & photographed everything from Lamborghinis to Maseratis to various German and Asian designs. When not writing, Angus has for the past six years been Editor-in-Chief for elemente, an internationally recognized architecture/design magazine. All articles by Angus MacKenzie

Oh for the days of real F1 cars and 1200 hp. The new cars are just computers.


We all long for the turbo era of the late 70s and early 80s (the most exciting IMHO), but I still like the new high tech era of F1. Formula 1 has always been about pushing the limits technologically while still being very much competitive. As the tech is proven on the track, it inevitably makes its way to the street. I like the idea of a hybrid thats actually fun to drive.

Michael Wilson

This is quite shocking and really pathetic to say the least, The FIA is starting to destroy F1 beyond recovery just as they have done with WRC. All these new changes and rules will mean that the lower rank teams with a more limited amount of money to spend on development will start to fall away. All these changes will take F1 back to where the strong and rich teams win and succeed and the success of the team will no longer count on driver, pit crew etc. This is precisely what the FIA wanted to get rid of hence the previous changes

Johann Coetzer

It is difficult to see much of this technology finding its way into production vehicles, except high end ones, that is. And even then it will be all too often in the wrong hands and dangerously so.

Having said that, I suppose the idea of spinning up the turbo is a likely contender, seeing what a pain turbo-lag is. The only problem is that with an F1 car, you can be sure that in a race, if the turbo is bellow a certain speed, then it should be accelerated because it is a certainty that the driver will very shortly be demanding maximum power. The same cannot be said for the driving requirements of the vast majority of average road users. Imagine spinning up the turbo every time you're stuck in traffic.

Having spent several years in vehicle research, I can count on the fingers of one hand the instances I know of where we had formal meetings with F1 people. That should come as no surprise when one considers the technological differences between a family saloon and an F1 car, or even a saloon car adapted for the track, many of whom only share a silhouette.

Mel Tisdale

I imagine the purpose of all this extremely complex, expensive and potentially unreliable energy recovery claptrap is to somehow save energy and improve fuel efficiency while the vehicle is in motion.

How come no-one seems to have addressed one of the greatest sources of wasted energy going - that required to bring the newly started engine, cooling system including heater, ancillaries and transmission up to temperature before it runs efficiently, all of which is then chucked away when the engine is stopped and the car parked - which may well be several times a day?



Nothing to see here with regards F1. Still over-regulated by FIA and stifling free thought and innovation that gives the world the genuine cutting-edge creations that made teams and racers of old the legend that they became.

I stopped watching F1 in the 80's and couldn't be bothered going back while it is so restricted.

F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of technology coupled with the skill of a man. It's nothing now. Dead boring.

Matthew Giles

I have just read an amazing summary of all technological advances from F1 reaching normal vehicles during the years. I definitely do give the F1 a chance to try out these novelties, which could mean a lot to regular car production. I sincerely think that involving more electro-mechanics, electronics and software will actually increase the number of companies from all over the globe taking part in this new F1. It's simple evolution..! What I do strongly criticize is the presence of only one tyre company. On 2013 we had several cases of tyre-caused accidents, as well as unpredictable performance/wear/tear. Why not involving competition here as well?

Charlie Channels

Used to be a big fan of F1 back in the 70's. When there were car designers that were really creative. The debate of V-8 vs V-12 engines.

Now everything is so over-regulated. There is no real creativity. The cars are one-design spec racers. I am sure that the teams are making oodles of money parading their rolling billboards around the world's race tracks

In an effort to protect their money machine, the F1 Association has made it very difficult for new teams to break in. There are limits on how much CFD and wind tunnel time a team can use. Supposedly to keep costs down. But really to keep it a closed club.

Dave Merriam

What I don't understand is that 1.5 litre turbos were producing 1500bhp in 1988, but now they can only manage 600bhp with 1.6 litres.

What's going on? Is it the fuel limit, the revs, or the fact the engine has to survive for more than a qualifying session?

John B

Good Lord! Lets all go to a glorified Toyota Prius Grand Prix. Can any driver be proud to win a solar powered derby?

Eufemia Zavala
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