Since the introduction of V6 turbo-hybrid engines in Formula 1 back in 2014, technology, cost and sound have come under fire from fans and teams alike. But, as Kevin Turner argues, it was a necessary move that, despite its drawbacks, provided future direction while maintaining the relevance of F1 to production vehicles.
Discussions about the Halo aesthetics in Formula 1 cars have subsided after some high-profile crashes, but the top-notch V6 turbo-hybrid engines continue to receive some criticism.
The points of attack on the power units are usually the sound, because they are too quiet, the cost or the argument that everything is directed to the electric, leading to the question of what sense does it make to maintain a formula that includes a combustion engine internal as part of the equation.
Let’s try the first one. Cars are not really that quiet. They are not as loud as V8 That preceded them, but those 2.4-liter engines weren’t quite as pleasant to listen to. Now you have half the chance of having a conversation on the track during a grand prix, which was not the case before.
The V10 From the pre-2006 era – and, of course, the V12s that ran before – sounded great and would take our vote for sonic feel. But today’s cars are reminiscent of the first turbo era of the F1 from the 80s and there are not many fans who criticize that period for the sound of the machines.
The cost of engines was certainly high when hybrids replaced V8s in 2014. Given the direction of the auto industry away from the traditional internal combustion engine, F1 probably had to go that way. Letting F1 lag further behind would have resulted in manufacturers having less interest in the category, but would also lead to increased requests for it to cease to exist due to social / environmental concerns.
The delay in new F1 chassis and aerodynamic regulations, the cost cap and the engine freeze also show that F1 has finally responded to escalating budgets. In other words, the big expense has already occurred.
Red Bull Racing RB16B rear detail
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
As for the argument of the need to go fully electric, at least in the short and medium term, Formula E (and Extreme E) are already there and it is too early to commit to a solution. Hydrogen energy and, more relevant in the case of F1, synthetic fuels are also avenues that deserve to be applied by society in general.
“There is a fantastic opportunity for renewable and sustainable fuels to be applied in all types of competition, reducing carbon emissions, and to show the world that there is an alternative to electrification that works for all the cars that exist today” Steve Sapsford
“We’ve heard a lot about moving to fully electric production vehicles,” said SCE CEO and former Ricardo engineer Steve Sapsford on one of the ASI Connect forums last month. the right direction, but one of the things that is not discussed is the cars that are already circulating ”.
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In the UK alone there are 34 million cars with traditional engines and to this he added: “There is a fantastic opportunity for renewable and sustainable fuels to be applied in all forms of competition, reducing carbon emissions, and to show the world that there is an alternative next to electrification that takes care of all the cars that exist now ”.
When it comes to competitiveness, there is no doubt that the introduction of turbo-hybrid units spread the level of play within F1 and helped Mercedes take an advantage that has not been surpassed.
But the 2022 regulation aims to fix that – current engines are the most fuel efficient in history, and they offer an opportunity for F1 to remain relevant for years to come. Then the question arises, are they really that bad?
The Lance Stroll, Racing Point RP19, returns to the pits without the engine cover.
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images