Under the Bonnet of Formula 1

British Grand Prix #UnderTheBonnet

Formula 1 cars on the track

Rules in Formula One are now more complex than they ever have been before. As the dust settles on the British Grand Prix and the confetti is cleared away after Lewis Hamilton’s victory, we thought we’d take a look at the latest rules and take a closer look under the bonnet to reveal what makes a Formula One car one of the fastest and most exciting vehicles in the world. At First Response Finance we wanted to go over some of the top facts under the bonnet of Formula 1.

A V8 engine formula 1 car

In 2014, the technical regulations changed radically. The philosophy behind the changes was simple: make the cars safer and more fuel efficient.

Fuel efficient

To make them more fuel efficient the amount of fuel used in a race has been restricted so that each car has 30% less in the tank, with each car carrying 140 litres.

A slight contrast with your average road car. A Ford Mondeo, for example, will fit around 45 litres of petrol with a full tank, under a third of the amount of a Formula One car. If you fitted a Formula One car’s petrol tank to your car it would cost you around £154 to fill.

In addition, the engines in Formula One have undergone a revolutionary shift to make them more fuel efficient. The previous rules meant each engine used to be a normally-aspirated 2.4l V8 with standard fuel injection. It is now a turbo-charged 1.6l V6 with direct fuel injection, this means that they have two fewer cylinders and all the cars now use a turbo. These engines are more economical and are seen as the future of the motor industry.

Each engine also has a much higher pressure fuel injection for more complete and efficient fuel burning. Although there’s now a rev limit of 15,000 rpm, and the turbo is back in F1 engines. Not only does the turbo spin at 100,000rpm, but it also creates a noise that’s loved by drivers and spectators the world over. In contrast, most road cars do not rev beyond 8,000 rpm as an absolute maximum and, if you’re doing 70mph down the motorway, you’re unlikely to be doing more than 3,500rpm.

A Ferrari V8 engine

(Image courtesy of John_Silver / Shutterstock.com)

Just to give you an idea of how quick these fuel efficiency changes make the Formula One car, it can easily complete the following speeds:
0 to 100kph: 1.7 seconds
0 to 200kph: 3.8 seconds
0 to 300kph: 8.6 seconds

That’s a lot faster than your average family car! For example, a 1.25 litre 2008 Ford Fiesta can do 0 to 100kph in around 12.9 seconds.

Formula One cars now also come with an enhanced version of the kinetic energy recovery system, and the KERS now has two motor generator units. The new one is powered by the flow of hot exhaust gasses, while the other one still uses brake energy from the rear wheels to charge a reservoir of power. This increase in KERS performance and the addition of the turbo is to make up for the move from V8 to V6 powertrains. This meant the F1 cars could maintain their high power output, whilst becoming more efficient.

The battery pack now also stores 10x the amount of energy which is enough for 3.3 seconds per lap, rather than 6.6 seconds a lap, like before. In addition, it also adds 160bhp. This also provides more torque, which means it’s tougher to control when getting on the power. This is great for the spectators as it means that they get the chance to see many more battles than they have previously.

The aerodynamics of an F1 car


To improve the speed and safety of the Formula 1 car the aerodynamics are vastly different than they have been previously. For safety, the nose is lower. This was to reduce the risk of a car T-boning another car and the new penetrating into the cockpit, injuring the driver. The rear wing has seen some changes, the main flap has been made flatter, coupled with it being able to open up further when the driver activates DRS (Drag Reduction System). This makes the car faster when DRS is activated allowing for more aggressive attacks and overtakes.

These safety changes are a testament to Formula One’s track record of being at the cutting edge of technology. The more they’re used in Formula One, the cheaper the equipment becomes which means it could make its way onto mass produced road and family cars within the next decade.

Racing cars from F1

The new power units on the Formula One cars have to last longer than ever since the rule change in 2014. Before then each car used to have eight engines for the entire season, now each car only has five. This means the cars engines need to be more efficient and less prone to breaking. Over the past two seasons there have been less engine problems after teams battled to make sure their engines were more reliable.

With all of these changes within recent years, Formula One cars should be safer and more economical, but the question now becomes: what will the FIA change next?

More changes are on their way for the upcoming season and they are set to shake things up a little. Do you have some predictions on changes that will be implemented? Get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock and iStock.

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