Jumping to conclusions

The reaction to the FIA’s press release today highlights the danger of rushing to digital print:

The WMSC approved the introduction of a new specification engine from 2013, underlining the FIA’s commitment to improving sustainability and addressing the needs of the automotive industry.

Following dialogue with the engine manufacturers and experts in this field, the power units will be four cylinders, 1.6 litre with high pressure gasoline injection up to 500 bar with a maximum of 12,000 rpm.

Many people have alighted on the magic number ‘500 bar’ and rushed to announce that turbo engines will return to F1 with, like, ker-ay-zee boost pressures. Sorry, but that’s not what the sentence says. Look again: high pressure gasoline injection up to 500 bar. That’s not the same as turbocharging.

The introduction of high-pressure common rail fuel injection on diesel cars in recent years has yielded huge improvements in performance, refinement and efficiency. Most road car diesels now run around 1000 bar of injection pressure, but their petrol equivalents are lagging – 200 bar is about as high as it goes at present.

Using Formula 1 as a laboratory for performance and efficiency development makes sense on a number of levels. The sport has to be more relevant to the public at large. It also needs to attract investment from the automotive industry rather than hoping for a financial white knight to charge in from the ether to replace the departed tobacco money and the departing bank money.

Leading research into high-pressure gasoline injection systems could engage not only the established automotive industry, but also the breakthrough car makers in the far east. Turbocharging? It’s been done, luv…

Turbos will be part of the package, but my snouts suggest that the boost pressure will be more modest – in the region of 1.5 bar or lower, around where they were capped last time around. Longevity is more important than before, now that drivers face greater limits on the number of engines they can use over the course of the season.

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  • Comments (1)
    • Steven Roy
    • December 13th, 2010

    No doubt we will have pretend turbos that do little just like we have pretend environmentally friendly tyres and Mickey Mouse circuits.

    I don’t see the need for real high pressure fuel injection with a 1.5 bar turbo. The limit is the air you can get in the engine not the fuel. When we had proper turbos they had 5 bar over boost so needed more than double the fuel feed rate these will.

    I would love to know how anyone thought there would be 500 bar turbos. The pipework would be so heavy the cars would weigh three tons. That ignores all the other little problems they would cause.

    If we had hand grenade quali engines before the 500 bar turbo would be more like a nuke.

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