Why ‘full throttle’ doesn’t mean ‘full power’ any more

F1 technology

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Last week Formula One drivers had their first taste of a radical new generation of engines.

But while much attention has been focused on the downsizing of engines from normally aspirated V8s to turbocharged V6s, the introduction of more powerful and complex energy recovery systems will have the biggest effect on driving technique.

The internal engine plus its heat and electrical energy recovery systems are collectively known as the power unit [PU]. The car’s electronics have to continually balance performance against economy as a driver varies his demands for acceleration over the course of a lap.

The upshot of this is that when a driver puts his foot to the floor at the exit of a corner, he may not get all the power his internal combustion engine has to offer.

“Full throttle no longer means a demand for full engine power,” explained Renault’s technical director for new generation power units Naoki Tokunaga.

“It is an indication to the PU given by the driver to go as fast as possible with the given energy.”

Staying within the maximum fuel allowance of 100kg and peak fuel rate of 100kg per hour will require careful management of the power unit over the course of a race.

“Effectively, once the driver applies full throttle, the control systems manage the power of the PU, with the aim to minimise the [lap] time within the given energy,” said Tokunaga.

How the new power units perform over a lap

The demands on the different parts of the power unit will vary over the course of a lap. Flat-out, the engine will be draining its tank and the turbocharge spinning at up to 100,000rpm.

Meanwhile the Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H) will be recovering energy from the hot waste gasses and transferring that to the Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K). Depending on the driver’s needs, the MGU-K will use that energy to increase the output of the power unit or conserve fuel.

When the driver reaches a corner and begins to brake the function of the MGU-K changes – it now acts as much as the KERS units of old, recovering energy from braking to story it in the battery.

The MGU-H also performs a different function. As the engine is no longer spinning the turbocharger the MGU-H takes over. This is to reduce the lag which would otherwise occur when the driver came to accelerate out of the corner and found the turbocharger was rotating too slowly.

As the driver accelerates away from the corner the engine is one again able to drive the turbocharger, and the MGU-H reverts to collecting energy from the turbocharger and exhaust.

Although the driver does not have total control over this energy transfer, he can take charge when he needs to.

“Of course, there will be certain driver-operated modes to allow him to override the control system,” said Tokunaga, “for example to receive full power for overtaking”.

“Using this mode will naturally depend on the race strategy. In theory you can deploy as many times as you want, but if you use more fuel or more electric energy then you have to recover afterwards. The ‘full boost’ can be sustained for one to two laps but it cannot be maintained.”

In qualifying the need to conserve fuel obviously does not apply, meaning the drivers will be flat-out. But as they can only recover half as much energy per lap as they can use, drivers will not be able to do two consecutive laps with full electrical boost.

Because of the need to cool down the tyres between qualifying runs this will usually not be a concern. However it may be a consideration in a scenario where qualifying is taking place on a wet but drying track. Drivers also use their boost before crossing the start line and beginning a qualifying lap, to increase their starting speed.

Coping with failures

While reliability has reached record levels in recent seasons, one component which has caused a series of failures for some teams – notably Red Bull – is KERS. These often caused only a minor loss of lap time and no need to retire the car. But comparable failures with the more sophisticated hybrid power elements in this year’s cars will be much more serious.

“If we lost the MGU-K we would keep the car running,” confirmed Mercedes managing director Andy Cowell in Jerez. With these devices being a major area of development this year he was cagey about the likely time loss, putting it at above one second per lap and less than ten.

“KERS last year [if it failed] it was an inconvenience,” he said. “About 0.3, 0.4 of a second per lap, but you could finish.”

“You lose the MGU-K it’s greater than a second,” he added. But not only would a driver suffer a lack of outright performance, their fuel consumption would also suffer, giving them another headache.

A car would also be able to continue running if its MGU-H were to fail, though turbo lag would also become an additional problem. “Losing both electric machines is bad news,” Cowell added.

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Images © Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Renault, Red Bull/Getty

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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148 comments on “Why ‘full throttle’ doesn’t mean ‘full power’ any more”

  1. The technology in these new engines is incredible. This is exactly the tech that needs to be promoted in F1 to coax manufacturers back to the sport.

    1. …and for current manufacturers to push onto more road cars. Plus, I actually like the sound of these new engines, especially hearing them power down when they stopped in the pit lane.

      1. I love the sound! It’s a nice low pitch growling engine :)

    2. If by “manufacturers” you mean “companies acting like they care about preserving the environment through lower consumption of fossil fuels while in reality harming the environment through the production of toxic batteries” then you’re absolutely right.

      1. @marciare-o-marcire The environmental impact doesn’t bother me, I’m just interested in more F1 teams. I’d be lying if I said any different.

        1. Agreed.
          I hope we see more manufacturer-backed teams in the future like we had in the 90s and 2000s, e.g. BMW Williams/Sauber, Stewart/Jordan Ford. Plus, there’s more variety then which always adds interest for me.

        2. I don’t give a hoot about the environment either. What bothers me is businesses claiming to care about environment, which is never true, and what bothers me even more is seeing consumers fall for the trick.

          1. @marciare-o-marcire

            I wouldn’t say that – I mean the first part of the second sentence, although in my opinion the first part is somewhat ignorant as well.

            Businesses do care about environment if it is in their interest. No matter why, but if they take steps to reduce harmful environmental impacts, it is in essence caring about environment. It obviously needs smart regulations and this is where the FIA and other international organizations step in, making businesses interested in taking these steps.

          2. *I mean the first part of the second sentence, although in my opinion the first SENTENCE is somewhat ignorant as well.

          3. @Marco, I think you are confusing car companies with politicians, the car companies just want to be able to sell us cars we both want and can afford to use, the politicians set the taxes that makes car use affordable or not.

      2. @marciare-o-marcire every manufacturer is interested in getting the most of the resources. This world will never be “green”, but at least now we can get just the same amount of power from a little 1.6 v6 turbo, with ERS, than we used to get from the 60s/70s old v8s or the huge H16.

        That’s progress that everyone wants to see and manufacturers won’t be the only ones realizing how big the opportunity it is to get in the mix and develop their knowledge. Hope F1 is the way to get there.

        I’m loving this hugely complicated power units. While I loved the simpler V10s with their raw power, it’s now obvious we’re not going to see then again, ever. So I rather have advanced technology.

        1. @fer-no65 But the problem is well-noted that the technology going into batteries are worse for the environment than burning fossil fuels due to R&D, production, and waste once the cells are dead, especially lead-acid batteries, which I’m certain these do not use… It’s a giant hypocrisy to say ‘we want to be more environmentally friend so lets use more fuel efficient engines and electrical power’ and people seem to think that it’s a good idea. And in the short term, sure, you see less fossil fuel usage, but in the long term, it’s less “green” than a purely gasoline/diesel/petrol powered engine. Also, someone on here before said that if they wanted to save the environment, they should look at the whole transportation of the F1 circus from city to city (trucks, airplane fuel, etc) where they use exponentially more fuel than all the cars put together for the entire season.

          1. Lead-acid batteries are (mostly) recycled nowadays, which somewhat limits the environmental impact.

          2. Sure, the transportaion of the F1 circus uses a lot of energy, but the key thing is F1 does not manufacture its own trucks/airplanes/trains/boats that they use for transport. Those are separate industries, which are also working on increasing their efficiencies. F1 can only directly impact its own activities, i.e. its own Power Units, manufacturing procedures, recycling, and waste handling.

            If we only concentrated on the single worst offender then no advancement will ever take place. It would always be a game of finger pointing “I dont need to improve my factory because that other factory pollutes more”, or “Why should I stop stealing bread from my baker when bankers are stealing billions of $ from everyone”.

            Just because shipping the F1 cars produces more emissions doesnt give the rest of F1 a free pass on the rest of its energy consumption.

            Also, there is an unsettled debate about how much more or less harmful batteries are to the environment compared to oil. But one big advantage of reducing oil sourcing is the reduced risk of oils spills, especially in bodies of water where the oil is quickly dispersed to a large area and is difficult to control.

      3. @marciare-o-marcire Well it’s not the manufacturers trying to “preserve the environment”. Every couple of years stricter regulations about CO2-exhaust gases are set and the manufacturers have to meet these regulations by downsizing the engines or making Hybrid vehicles. This applies to every car company, so they would rather invest in technology that will help them meet such regulations instead of building V8 or V10 which is useless technology for them now. It’s the way the world is going at the moment and the only way to attract these companies to the sport.

      4. There is nothing toxic about lithium batteries. You’re reading old “hit pieces” on NiCd or NIMH batteries.
        And batteries are nothing compared to what we do drilling for oil, refining oil, or most especially the problems that arise when we all end up in wars because of oil. Hey, we Americans will find an excuse at least once a decade to start up a war somewhere in the middle east to keep oil flowing the way we want. I guess you think that’s better than batteries?

        1. @daved You’re missing R&D, disposal, manufacture, etc. Yes, the NiCd, NiMH, and lead acid batteries are far worse than the lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries as far as production, but disposal of the lithium based batteries is insanely more ridiculous than the production of the old batteries above.

          1. You really believe that the R&D, disposal and manufacture of lithium batteries is more damaging than oil exploration, refining and the resulting wars fighting for it? Have you ever talked to anyone that’s been to Nigeria? Just because it’s not in your backyard, you think it doesn’t exist?

            Did you see that they had a single tank leak into a river in West Virginia with chemicals used to “clean coal” and nearly a million people had to go without water to drink, bathe with or wash clothes with for over a week.

            Are you going to stop using cell phones because they use batteries (billions of them all over the planet) and everything else that uses batteries?

            Why do people single out batteries for use in vehicles like they are some type of aberration? It’s incredibly hypocritical for people to ignore everything they do and use every day and focus on batteries in cars.

            If you guys want to go on some crusade against electrification of vehicles, that’s a political/quasi religious argument that doesn’t belong on F1 Fanatic. We should stick to talking about Formula 1.

  2. Interesting. Now if only someone came up with an on screen display that gives us a clue as to what is happening when we watch a car, it would be gold!

    1. Hear, hear.

    2. Actually I’m really worried about the tv graphics. Even with drs the graphics were really poor at times. F1 has A LOT to learn from nascar in terms of how much more and how well more info can be shown on the screen.

      1. I absolutely agree.

        Having those little boxes with names and/or numbers plus speeds or gaps in them with little arrows pointing to the cars on-the-move


        real-time qualifying time advantage/deficit on a shown lap

        are two of the most basic additions I’d like to see, but of course, F1 has a lot more to communicate via display due to these new energy recovery system usages.

    3. I suppose the FOM will have a battery icon just like they did last year, but they have to let people know somehow that only half of the energy can be recovered each lap.

      What they really should have though, is a “fuel remaining” indicator, now that the cars have the official flow meter and that info is sent as part of the telemetry just like kph or RPM is VERY easy to implement.

      1. Yes. Keep it simple – fuel remaining is all that matters – it tells us who may need to back off to make the finish.

        And I hope the commentators don’t bang on about MGUs and PUs, but keep us informed about racing things: gaps and sector times and tyre age. It’s a race, not NASA mission control; and none of the commentators will have raced these cars, so they’d be talking rubbish anyway.

      2. I doubt the teams would be too happy about having their fuel levels up on screen, it removes a lot of strategy.

    4. RPM, Boost, Voltage K, Voltage H, fuel flow. The perfect on screen “Dashboard”, great suggestion @bascb, it is do-able but probably the teams wont want the other teams to be able to see it.

      1. Yes, those kind of things put in attractive graphics. I would hope the FIA could give FOM access to that without teams interfering. But I doubt it will be much more than seeing a battery indicator and a few indicators turning green, yellow or red @hohum

    5. I love all the telemetry and get frustrated that they don’t show it more often or more consistently. For me, there is even more interesting data with the new systems for 2014 and I certainly hope they will take advantage of this and offer us more information about what’s going on!!!

    6. @BasCB Personally I think the best way would be to have indicators on the cars themselves by way of light strips which change colour depending on what the car is doing. Green while solely harvesting, red while accelerating normally, purple when everything is turned up to 11, and so on. Imagine how incredible that would look with all these cars lit up like something out of Tron, especially at the night races. And it would be an easy visual reference so people know what each car/driver is doing.

      I absolutely love the technology behind these cars. The thing I find most impressive is that there is not actually a single point in the cycle where the car won’t be harvesting some form of energy, even while the battery is being discharged.

      1. I wholeheartedly agree with that @mazdachris. That is something that would really make it exciting. Especially with 2 night races and one light-dark season super duper double points bonanza thing on the calendar.

        This would have the potential to get new people interested in cars giving fancy flashes showing what they are doing.

  3. So the driver no longer has control of the power this is great news, humans are notoriously wasteful creatures . I am expecting future grand prix to be run on similar venues to downhill sking, a sort of hill climb in reverse with none of that dreadfull global warming causing planet killing mechanical power ,can’t wait.

    1. 2021 Championship will be a soapbox race….

    2. @jpowell Misinformed comments that have nothing to do with what the article really says, are a huge waste of space. So you’re right in that regard…

  4. Thanks for the Insight over 2014 Machinery Keith

  5. How do the drivers override the system to get MAX power, is it like a KERS button? or a mode they switch to?

    1. I imagine it’d be a ‘Max Power’ button, which not only gives max power, but also activates underfloor neon and plays dubstep through the £50,000 stereo system :-)

      1. Max Power. It’s the button with name you want to touch, but you mustn’t touch!

        1. I sang the lyrics in my head reading the words!

    2. I think only Marussia can use MAX power!

  6. The loss of MGU-K looks to be really bad for the race. The fact that the car will need more fuel if it fails, could mean that race is pretty much over. If it happens midway of the race or earlier, it will depend on how much fuel is in the tanks, not to mention the flow limit.
    Is there any chance that the unit could be back after it fails, say after a couple of laps of not working?

    1. With the old KERS systems they could sometimes fix the problem remotely, we will have to wait and see if they can do the same with the MGU-K

      1. Pit wall never fixed anything remotely for the last decade. Two way transmission is forbidden (only pit radio is allowed). They can only advise drivers via radio what to do in the car.
        The reason why KERS sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t is because the batteries got too hot and had to be cooled down. I guess the same could happen in 2014 with energy store, but if the actual motor generator unit fails, there’s not much there can be done I suspect.

    2. Is there any chance that the unit could be back after it fails, say after a couple of laps of not working?

      Would have thought so providing the failure is only software related and not a hardware issue. We’ve seen that before when one of the Red Bull’s KERS wouldn’t deploy and a few laps later it was restored (but obviously the systems are more complex now).

      1. This was because the batteries got too hot and they just waited for them to cool down. It wasn’t a software issue at all.

    3. If the problem is some form of overheating then yes, they could turn it off for a couple of laps while it cools down and they could also do that at the end of the race if they’re not fighting for position.

  7. So the drivers will be able to increase their engine performance for 1 or 2 laps to try and aid overtaking.

    If it weren’t for DRS then this would have been really interesting. A chasing driver may have been able to overtake, only for the other driver to reverse the positions – both knowing that they can’t keep swapping places without burning through their fuel too quickly and then both dropping back through the field.

    As it is, with DRS, they’ll just breeze past each other, and use that extra performance to pull ahead out of DRS range :(

    1. Not to mention next year’s drs in getting a boost. 70 mm opening as opposed to current 55.

    2. Then fall back into it as they wasted a lot of fuel to get further ahead.

  8. Sounds like an awful lot of things that can go wrong; and are going wrong. Reliability could be comparitively awful this year. Which is good news for the minnows. I don’t think I like the idea that we’re making what appear to be so many compromises in terms of outright performance. All of this assumes the tyres won’t be a limiting factor to some degree this year too.

    It all very much remains to be seen.

    1. Tyres are definitely a limiting factor. They’re much harder which means they’ll take longer to warm up (therefore slower laps) and won’t corner as fast (therefore slower laps) which in turn means races will last longer (therefore even more boring) but since they’re still Pirelli’s there’s bound to be something fundamentally wrong with them (therefore more pit stops).

      1. @marciare-o-marcire : It sounds like you’re not too optimistic either :-) However, if the field is unreliable and more varied from a speed point of view then maybe (just maybe) the longer races won’t automatically equate to even more boring races. I don’t mind a long race if there’s something worth watching.

    2. Its not like the minnows are racing in another formula.

      1. No but it’s fairly obvious that if you introduce the significant chance of retirements all over the field, at the very least you increase the chances of a minnow getting into the points. That’s what I was getting at and it’s what the paddock have been saying too.

  9. Interesting, I thought that with this system in place that rule 9.3 would have had to have been rewritten/edited/deleted but as far as I can find out it remains intact.

    9.3 Traction control :
    No car may be equipped with a system or device which is capable of preventing the driven wheels from spinning under power or of compensating for excessive torque demand by the driver.
    Any device or system which notifies the driver of the onset of wheel spin is not permitted

    The upshot of this is that when a driver puts his foot to the floor at the exit of a corner, he may not get all the power his internal combustion engine has to offer.

    “Full throttle no longer means a demand for full engine power,”

    1. I don’t think that rule quite fits what the electronic systems do; that rule is for traction control if i’m not mistaken.
      The article is about how the total power demanded by the driver is split into Engine power and electronic power.
      I may be wrong but the way I understand it, is that when a driver pushes the accelerator, the power may be delivered to him in different ways, as a combination of electric + engine. If the driver demands say 700 BHP for example, he may get it as 540 from the engine and 160 from the electrical systems, but he still gets the full amount of power that he wants, whereas traction control would initially give him less power than he wanted.
      Slightly cumbersome explanation, i know, but it’s the only way i could describe it.

      1. Yes it’s the rule for traction control and is listed in the transmission section of the rules, which may be why it remains because the system being talked about is an engine/power unit system.

        As usual, there are different ways to read different things and ambiguity creeps in, but I’d certainly say these control systems represent a way to “conceal” some sort of driver aid.

        1. The first thing that came into my mind when i read the article was about driver aids, it seems so complex that if the rules on it aren’t properly written, i’m sure manufacturers could develop driving aids from it, in a similar light to what renault did with their engine mapping

        2. @johnnik

          I’d suggest to save ourselves the conspiracies, since we don’t even understand how this new systems work.

    2. My thoughts exactly as well.

      I cannot imagine the teams will not be able to employ some hidden TC in there somewhere…

      1. @atticus-2 I don’t see how that can be undetected with a common ECU

    3. What I was thinking when I suggested that Renault may be trying to be to clever with the MGU-H, not just keeping the turbo on boost, but varying the boost/fuel flow by controlling turbo rpm in order not to exceed the traction limit.

      I am wondering also, would it be possible/legal to run a smaller turbo without MGU-H, less ultimate power but more reliability, much like kers was optional?

      1. You’ll be forced to drive so slowly to not run out of fuel it’s not worth it. Not to mention turbo lag you’d get with no MGU-H.

    4. Having your wheels spinning faster than the car is moving is certainly a waste of energy, so one could argue that launch control is a way of saving fuel, for example. You start having a lot of gray areas like that.

  10. My God, the more I hear about these bloody cars the more I’m beginning to hate these new rules.
    If Alonso was to turn up at the first race of 2014 in his 2004 Renault f1 car, he would lap the entire field three, and possibly four times, by the end of the race.
    These cars are:
    1: slow
    2: ugly
    3: too easy to drive (low cornering speeds, g forces etc)
    4: you don’t need anything like the level of fitness to drive them
    It is all a shame
    RIP F1

    1. I would correct point 4. to this:
      4) must be hideously anorexic to avoid weight penalty.

      1. @marciare-o-marcire I must agree with you on that, but the way to fix that is set a separate minimum weight for seat with driver.

    2. I couldn’t disagree more, I am bloody excited for this new season! The technology of these machines is astounding! For me, that was always the main draw of F1, and what truly separates it from all the other motor sports around the world. Embrace change my friend.

    3. Not at all Kitty. He would make it to about a 1/3rd of the race before he came to a halt for lack of fuel!

      1. As BadF1Stats on Twitter would say:

        He would only have to make one pitstop, to retire the car for not being within the regulations.

        1. indeed. I think that actually was a real tweet already @craig-o!

    4. You’re making things up.

      No driver has said that the current cars are easier to drive. At best some have said it’s the same, others are saying they’re actually trickier.

      Also they are “slow” only compared to last year’s cars, teams are expected to reach last year’s top speeds by the end of the season.

      And who seriously cares about the level of fitness? Even assuming your complain is true and not made up, what difference does it make?

    5. Getting tired of pessimism, were 6 weeks away from the first race and you have given up? At least give it a chance before slating everything that’s new, F1 needs to be moving forward constantly, I welcome these changes and I can’t wait for the first race!

      1. Not even that long @rob-wilson: 5 weeks until FP1 in Australia! Cannot wait personally: if only there were no DRS this is the best formula F1 has had in a long time.

        1. @vettel So true !
          I am pretty excited too, what a massive challenge !

    6. 3: too easy to drive (low cornering speeds, g forces etc)

      Not necessarily. If at all these engines would require more finesse from a driver to operate as the torque they output is huge. Most drivers have already said that driving these new cars is a completely different challenge. I’m expecting a lot of drivers to spin more, especially in high pressure moments like in qualifying or when a driver is defending during races.

    7. (low cornering speeds, g forces etc)

      Yeah, about that, cornering speeds and G-forces endured while cornering are actually higher nowdays(albeit a very small difference) than they were in 2004.

    8. petebaldwin (@)
      6th February 2014, 15:13

      Totally diagree with points 3 and 4. They will not be easier to drive at all! They will be much harder to driver! A big part of them being slower is because they have much less downforce this year! They also have a lot more torque coming out of the corners so this will be hard to control as well. I don’t really understand why you’d need a lower level of fitness to driver them either…? Because they are a couple of seconds slower?

    9. 1. There hasnt even been a race yet.
      2. Your opinion.
      3. Go ahead, take a shot, you probably couldnt drive a McLaren P1 around Melbourne.
      4. That must be why drivers like Hamilton, Rosberg, Hulkenberg are always worried about being fit.
      5. Once agian, you would probably pass out in Eau Rouge, Parabolica or 130R if you were at those speeds.

  11. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    6th February 2014, 13:11

    Cheers Keith! That’s helped clear up some of the confusion I had about these incredibly complex engines. The regs seem very restrictive.

    If there’s one thing I don’t really like about these new regulations is the fixed gear ratios for the entire season. Seems a bit silly.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      6th February 2014, 15:17

      I don’t really understand the point of the fixed gear ratios either. It removes an option that a team might have had to try something different stratigically (like Vettel did at Abu Dhabi when he had to come through the field).

      I can’t see the point of the rule….

      1. cost savings. The only reason it’s there. It will eliminate variety between teams and races.

    2. I’m still pretty sure that the final drive ratio can still be changed, it is only the individual ratios that cannot be changed, so having a particular ratio optimised to suit every corner of every track will no longer be available to the teams that can afford that level of detail.

      1. I think you’re right about that @hohum so they can still change the final drive ratio to suit each track. So it’s not like they’re going to hit the rev limiter at 300km/h at Monza or have an extra 60km/h to spare in Monaco.

        1. @metallion @hohum They won’t be hitting the rev limiter at Monza by using only gears 2-8. In Monaco they’ll only use 1-7. Btw, experts are predicting that with these fixed ratio rules the top speed at Monza will be back up to 350 km/h in qualy

          1. @montreal95
            Yep, you and effone are correct, thanks for clearing that up! I never thought of that they’d use the gears in that way, it doesn’t seem as bad an idea in that case. Really looking forward to the start of the season!

          2. They could still hit limiter in monza while slipstreaming with DRS, but it’s a long shot. Too many variables to predict and too little information available.
            2010 cars were able to hit 350 on their own, with no drs or kers, so nothing special about these speeds.

          3. @juzh Where did I say it was special? 2004 cars were hitting 370 kph there. But it’s certainly better than 330 kph of last years. And together with the reports of the Merc engine having output of close to 700 bhp without ERS, this puts one more nail in the coffin of the new engine’s doomsayers(read: Bernie and the gang). The new engines are powerful, flexible, technologically advanced and, for my taste, sound great as well! Yes they’re not as loud but the sound itself is “meaner” and more complex like a roar of some alien animal. I’d still prefer the sound of V12 to this any day and maybe V10 too, but not V8

      2. @hohum We’ve been through all this before:
        There are 8 fixed ratios between the crankshaft RPM and the rear wheel RPM that cannot be changed except to re-nominate the entire set once in the 2014 season only.

        1. OK got it, last time I read it it was before the definitions were included, interesting that something as simple as optimising final drive ratio which has been part of racing in so many disciplines for so long has been totally removed from F1, should save the teams enough money for a round of drinks for the pit crew.

          1. @hohum They wouldn’t have it for the drinks as the money went for an additional gear they didn’t have in 2013. To be honest it isn’t a bad idea in my book. What’s the point of optimizing final gear if you have 8 gears and can use them less of them at will. For example, I’d read a suggestion that they will even only use gears 1-6 at Monaco. These engines are flexible and can go Monaco speeds(270-280 kph) in 6th gear. But it’s unlikely as then the 6th gear will be too long for other tracks. So IMO they’ll use 7th too. Yes the ratios won’t be perfectly optimized on some tracks but it’ll only add to the excitement.

            I’m sure there are more technical people than me who can explain it better or correct what I wrote but at this moment I don’t think this is a problem

      3. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        6th February 2014, 23:31

        Ohh! Well that changes things then. If that’s the case then it’s not so bad. :)

    3. If there’s one thing I don’t really like about these new regulations is the fixed gear ratios for the entire season.

      @tophercheese21 I will miss the Monza-spec wings

      1. huh? they can still change their wings to suit different tracks. It’s just that maximum angle of attack has been reduced. Makes no impact on monza spec wings as they are much below maximum permitted AOA anyway.

    4. Hamilton was saying during the Jerez test that he was using gears 4-5 even coming out of a hairpin, to control the torque. If they’re only using gears 1-6 in monaco does that mean they could do the whole race effectively using no more than gears 4-6? (apart from start and pit-lane) Maybe when the cars are more dialled in and drivers are actually pushing they will use lower gears.

  12. Anyone here like the “PU”? Geddit? Yeah…Okay I’d better tone it down on the stupid jokes…

    1. @mashiat A bit childish, I agree, but I see your post as a community service. Us folks for whom English is a second (or third, …) language do need to be put on joke alert once in a while. Especially when it comes to the childish ones, because we did not know any English as kids when you English folks were busy practising them :-).

  13. Having only very basic understanding of the new regs, to me it seems as a big amount (if not most) of control is transferred FROM the driver, to software. This reduces excitement for me a great deal as I want the driver to basically have no aids, or at least I want ALL drivers to have access to the exact same number of aids. If unpoliced, I feel these new regs can potentially give us a few obvious new “loopholes” that certain teams can use to gain a huge (unfair) advantage over other teams – similar to the blown diff we had earlier. I am not interested in seeing another team/driver take trivial poles and from there cruise to trivial race wins (and eventually trivial titles).

    So, when the driver applies full throttle the engine will just ignore that “order”, and instead ask the software what to do. Software will say, oh well, give us 70% power and we will take the rest from elsewhere. Is this software standardized or can each team use their own? How difficult would it be to write and use software that in effect gives the drivers the famous driver aid called traction control? How easy is it to police?

    Regarding braking – We will have this thing called brake by wire technology, which as I have understood does the same as in the accelerating case, but for the breaking phase. The driver applies full braking power to the pedal, but the software will decide how much power to be applied to the braking discs (and how much will be left for the harvesting system) in order to have a consistent breaking effect – an electrical motor applies the force itself to the discs. The obvious question then – Is it now OK to implement and use the other famous driver aid called ABS on the rear axel? If no, is this software standardized for the teams and can it be policed?

    We have then not started talking about the double/triple or whatever multiplier for the x last races of the year…Why should certain races be worth more than other? “Keeps excitement in the later stages of the season (and ensure me consistent cash flow) certain old men will say”. What these “old men” forget is that the people (fans) who actually build these cash flows are paying not only for a show but above all for a sport.

    1. Well there’s an interesting possibility.

      So, when the driver applies full throttle the engine will just ignore that “order”, and instead ask the software what to do.

      Would the software be capable of taking the amount of fuel used at any given point, and re-calculating what the maximum fuel per lap would need to be in order to finish the race and adjusting the engine map accordingly?

      1. To be fair, and worryingly…
        I think there is a strong chance that the whole season is going to be based around those calculations, wether they’re done on board or from the pit lane.
        The winning driver/team is quite likely to be the one that can manage their fuel load better than everybody else and stop in park ferme with just enough fuel for a sample, and not a drop more.

    2. OK, get this in your head people, there’s NO driver aids period.

      The driver will be in control of acceleration and breaking as much as before, the difference is that the ECU will be more of a middle man, but the torque and breaking force is proportional to pedal position like its always been.
      And in case you think someone will try something clever with software, remember the ECU is policed by the FIA and every team has the same unit.

      1. I am no expert, still I doubt it is as simple as you like to express it.
        Nowhere in the story is mentioned anything about “the torque and breaking force is proportional to pedal position” – maybe that is implicit…

        ” ECU is policed by the FIA and every team has the same unit.”

        Will this continue to be true in 2014? Even if that is the case, proper/effective policing will not be easy given the complexity of the thing. Remember that even with the (supposedly much simpler) ECU of previous seasons, teams were caught have been using illegal engine maps after having used them for several GPs – Redbull, not sure if it was 2012 or -13.

        1. It’s the same for 2014. These CPUs have been in use since 2013 anyway. Proper policing will be easy. that’s the whole point of standardized ecus.
          Those engine maps were not illegal. Red bull received no penalty. Rules were written insufficiently at the time.
          That said, someone is bound to figure a faster, LEGAL way and thus gaining advantage over others. At least in the beginning.

          1. Those engine maps were not illegal. Red bull received no penalty.

            Please…we are talking about F1 after all. Are you trying to say that rulings in (in the cash-driven) F1 are consistent…or ever been? Not convinced.

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      6th February 2014, 15:18

      True but on the other hand, I’d rather a driver stamp on the pedal coming out of the corner and not have to worry about saving fuel. If fuel saving has to exist in F1, I’d rather a computer deal with that and the drivers get on with racing!

    4. @quads You’re completely wrong. This rule only means that the driver will be able to fully control the amount of BHP he has available at this moment. If at a certain moment the engine is capable of 700BHP he’ll get that(if he judged it correctly and doesn’t get snap oversteer or something). If he has only 650(the battery is empty) then he’ll have full control of that. It was always thus. A driver must do the maximum with amount of power he’s given. In the early days of the V10’s sometimes a driver would lose a couple of cylinders in his engine to a failure making it effectively a V8. Did he have any control of that? A driver was being told last year as well to change his engine setting by turning a lever to increase/decrease BHP/torque. Flicking a lever on a steering wheel isn’t a core driving skill me thinks

    5. I am not interested in seeing another team/driver take trivial poles and from there cruise to trivial race wins (and eventually trivial titles).

      @quads Why does everyone gang up on Redbull accusing them only of taking advantage of the loopholes…. and when they are successful, their wins and poles become ‘trivial’

      1. Not accusing – just expressing my view on such “racing”. Take for example the 2nd part of last season – That is not racing, rather cruising to poles->race wins->title. Well done to the engineers & designers of that team though (and FIA for the suitable tyres).

  14. Really enjoyed this technical insight. I was unsure whether the cars would still be able to run if their ERS failed but this has definitely cleared it up. It would be quite interesting to see how the backmarker teams would fare against a midfield team without ERS. This season will really be a test of who (not just driver but team as well) can simply keep their car going for as long as possible, as quickly as possible. I know it’s probably irrelevant now, but Red Bull had the fastest car last season, and Mercedes were thereabouts in qualifying trim, but the McLaren was the most reliable. Ferrari also had a car with reasonable race pace as well as the Lotus.

    It’s impossible to judge the pecking order at this stage but we have seen all the Mercedes teams do well in the first test. Anybody would be silly to write off Red Bull, Ferrari and maybe Lotus though. We could have a crazy season, like 2012, like 2009, like 1982 and like 1983. Or alternatively one team will have the fastest, most reliable car and we could have 2002 or 2004.

  15. Although the driver does not have total control over this energy transfer, he can take charge when he needs to.

    “Of course, there will be certain driver-operated modes to allow him to override the control system,” said Tokunaga, “for example to receive full power for overtaking”.

    “Using this mode will naturally depend on the race strategy. In theory you can deploy as many times as you want, but if you use more fuel or more electric energy then you have to recover afterwards. The ‘full boost’ can be sustained for one to two laps but it cannot be maintained.”


    1. That’s the conclusion I had, but we know that’s not going to happen…

      1. You are absolutely correct @steevkay. Sigh.

    2. You’ll be delighted to know that not only did FIA not outlaw DRS, but instead increased it’s effectiveness via increasing slot opening from 55 to 70mm for 2014.

      1. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

        This has all the potential to be an amazing season, but we have it ruined from the day one by DRS and knowledge that there will be those dreaded double points in the last race. :(

  16. I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but could this leave engineers with the ability to tamper with a car or drivers settings? For instance, not giving them enough power as they need?

  17. Another point/question.

    For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that there will be some close racing at some point.

    Car/driver “A” is being chased by car/driver “B” for let’s say 3 laps. Good, close, clean enjoyable racing. On the 4th lap of this battle they exit a hairpin a couple of feet apart, driver “B” is right up driver “A”‘s gearbox.
    Maybe car “A” decides to cut engine output by 200bhp at full throttle, unknown to either driver. Car “B” has made full power available, just as in the previous 3 laps and now car/driver “B” ploughs straight into the back of car/driver “B”.
    Driver “B” has now ruined his own race and his opponents race without doing a thing wrong.

    1. @johnnik

      Do you honestly think it’s that simple the way it works? As I said, let’s save ourselves the conspiracies (or, in this case, the chaos theories) of systems we don’t even begin to understand.

    2. @johnnik Driver A = Alonso, Driver B = Button ;p

    3. 200 bhp? Let’s not get carried away, it won’t be that much.

  18. I love it. I love it all. The technicalities, the speculation, so many theories that all make some sense or another. I know a lot of us are ranting and yelling “boycott” over the points nonsense, but let’s be honest…we can’t wait. The anticipation is overwhelming. This is gonna be the longest pre-race 5 1/2 weeks I’ve had in a long time.
    ps…as always Keith…thanks for great info and insight

    1. Yeah, I’ve already forgotten the funny noses and am really looking forward to the new season.

      …well, I guess you can’t truly “forget” noses like that. Once seen, they cannot be unseen.

      Regardless, I am tremendously excited about the new season. I’ll reserve any further judgement until we’re a few races into the season.

  19. I don’t like this system. At all.
    You can deploy ERS or whatevers they call it, I don’t ker, for 34 seconds at full power, and we were are on ‘full throttle’ for more than that in 2013. Say at track A we are on full throttle for 45s. So the ERS will be set to a lower amount of HP so that we last 45s or 44.5 or whatever.
    Supposing it rains. What then?
    What if we are at tracks like Montreal, unable to fill ERS and are able to do around 75%. And we use it for 50-55s. How the hell will drivers cope up?
    Will they put more boost and get lag when the ERS finishes, or will they keep on changing the values every few laps for the fuel adjusted time. Fine, that will be around 4-5 seconds from start to finish due to the lower amount of fuel in cars. It would also have a big impact on strategy and overtaking, and I’ll leave you to ponder the possibilities.
    Teams with better set ups for ERS will have a bigger advantage. A few seconds perhaps, more in the early races.

    I dont like the above stuff at all. I don’t care about DRS, tyres, noses, Vettel or whatever but ERS and Turbo have taken the freedom to KNOW away. We can’t tell how much extra accelerating power someone had in an overtake now, atleast we could say “OH! A hell of a highway pass, too bad he had done the move a few hundred meters before the turn or it would have been exceptional…”

    1. 1. 34s is theoretical number. It only applies if MGU-K is discharging at max power from fully charged energy store, which will, as mentioned in article, only happen during qualifying. You could also discharge at a lower rate for more time. You are right there.
      2. if it rains, they’ve got a set of different maps available.
      3. Fact is, they won’t be able to fully charge energy store (probably everywhere, not just montreal) for more than 2 laps (as mentioned by the renault guy in the article), so they’ll have to make do with what they’ve got. Most likely power discharge will be decreased in favour of it being available for more seconds of the lap, as opposed to max power being available for less less seconds.
      4. max boost is limited by fuel flow regulation (max 3.5 bar or thereabouts). It will not be used all the time anyway, as you won’t finish the race if you do.
      5. You’re right, we won’t have a clue why a guy just steamrolled a guy in front, unless FOM provides extensive on screen info.

  20. Bernie, take note, technical differences and the possibility of performance differences from the PU create a lot of interest in F1.

  21. The way this article is written it makes it sound like the software is continually calculating how much fuel it can afford to spend any time the driver asks for full power and using just that amount. I could extrapolate that this would also vary based on position on the circuit – it might be faster to use more fuel in one place (i.e. beginning of long straight) and less in others (end of straight or short connection between corners).

    I hope this is not the case, and what is really being said is that the full power will not always be available due to the current state of battery charge or engine setting and that the driver will have to manage things himself in order to finish the race with the given amount of fuel.

    1. “it might be faster to use more fuel in one place (i.e. beginning of long straight) and less in others (end of straight or short connection between corners).”

      This was my understanding when i first heard about the new engines, but i don’t think so any more. The system doesn’t ‘know’ where it is on the track, so wouldn’t be able to differentiate between a long straight or a short one. It knows the throttle input, and i would guess it knows the average rate of fuel consumption per lap, and number of laps remaining, and will manage fuel based on that.

      However engine modes could be altered by the driver so he can choose when to override the system to give maximum power (for passes or during pit windows) before reverting back to some form of cruise mode to manage fuel until the end. Driver inputs will still have an impact on fuel management of course, short-shifting or coasting if fuel is critical.

  22. Warning. Do not commit the same mistake i made in 2009. Wait a few years until the engineers bring the performance back. This cars are going to be a disapointment in a tilkedrome. No speed sensación, due to lack of noise, And performance, plus huge distances from grandstands.
    Spend 300 quid at you own peril.

  23. This is hilarious. Imagine the “average” viewer trying to make sense of this complicated mess.
    They say they want to attract casual viewers; yet make the sport more difficult to understand at every turn. Most people just want to see the cars RACE – NOT manage fuel, NOT manage tyres, NOT manage DRS, ERS, MGU-H, MGU-K or whatever gimmick they come up with next.
    The average viewer will surely struggle to get his head around these terms and how they influence what happens on the track! Whatever happened to drivers just racing????

    1. That matches my comment the other day concerning declining TV audience figures. F1 has left the casual viewer behind. The rules and regs are far too complex for anyone but the serious devotee to understand. So when this fabled casual viewer switches channel partway through the race to watch snooker, darts or bowling on the other side, Bernie shouldn’t be surprised.
      “Usain Bolt has five second lead, but remember he’s got to change his running shoes for high heels at the end of this leg of the relay and eat a bowl of Kellogs before hopping the next lap, but his main rivals will only have to drink a Starbuck’s Latte and tie their knees together.”
      Many soccer fans have a problem explaining the offside rule, try explaining ERS and DRS to soccer fan.

    2. Even highly technical F1 oriented gurus don’t understand it fully. I bet even renault/merc/ferrari guys don’t yet. Imagine how painful it’ll be to explain a casual viewer why the one car flew by another one with 30-40kmh advantage.

  24. They can recover 1/2 energy from mgu-k. But that doesn’t mean they can only recover 1/2 over the lap, as they can also recover energy from mgu-h to either directly assist mgu-k, or putting it in energy store. Even Tokunaga himself said: “The ‘full boost’ can be sustained for one to two laps but it cannot be maintained.”

    1. I raised my eyebrows at that bit too, but for other reasons. Was that one lap of Monaco, or two laps of Spa?

      1. Hard to know. No one will share this kind of information I think. Really tricky to predict. MGU-H will harvest most energy while on full throttle, so “stop and go” tracks with heavy breaking will therefore suit this the most, while fast flowing tracks with little braking the least. Silverstone and suzuka will be really bad in that regard. Very little braking and lots of fast stuff, so mgu-h will only be used to directly assist mgu-k and not to store energy at all.
        I don’t think this will be much of a problem because as has been mentioned in the article, drivers tend to either do a cool down lap or simply 1 run. In the wet it will be better to just drive in self sustaining mode.
        This is so complicated I doubt even merc/renault/ferrari themselves know 100% how it’ll work.

  25. It’s like the more we read about the new power units and fuel regs, the less we know about how it will all translate to actual performance over any complete race. Doubtful we’ll know for sure until we get to the finish of each race weekend. I think that could be a good thing because different teams and drivers will have different strategies, likely for each different race. Even as successful strategies are more clearly developed, the strategies that work for one race might not work for another. Add in the potential unreliability for the complete power unit or individual systems and we have a recipe for many different winners and possible instant turmoil for any team or driver at any time during any race weekend. It should be fascinating to see what happens and which teams/drivers can develop any consistency.

    1. And we’ll continue to know nothing about how it works if FOM doesn’t provide EXTENSIVE on screen information of what’s going on with the car. Like kers lightning bolt graphic we had in the past, but much more in-depth. If we’ll just continue to have the same discharge bar, we’ll know absolutely nothing.

  26. For those who know better, what was the fastest year – in terms of full speed and power – so far in Formula 1?

  27. Am I correct that they will run flat out at 15.000 rpm in qualy given they only have to do a handfull of laps within the hour with as much as 100 kg of fuel?

    And second; wil cars spread out there ERS performance over a lap so they have predictable PU torque at each given corner? Or will a CPU control this with the risk of having huge (turbo) lag at the last couple corners of a lap, because a driver failed to harvast enough energy through out the lap?

    I’m confused

    1. 1. They will be flat out in quali, yes. No need to conserve fuel there. However, they won’t run 15k rpm, even in qualifying, I can assure you that much. Due to fuel flow limit max power is achieved around 13500-14000, after that it’s just more friction and power therefore decreases. you’ll only really need those 15k rpm in 8th gear in monza and maybe spa when you’re slipstreaming another car with drs.

      2. They will spread it out yes. There won’t be any turbo lag, engineers will make sure of this with clever mapping. More can not be said at this stage, information is too scarce.

    2. As i see it, drivers will always have predictable PU torque, apart from sometimes at full throttle.

      Example 1, 50% throttle – 50% throttle is say 350hp (approx), engine will deliver 350hp regardless of stored energy levels, it can either be 150hp from ERS with 200hp from the engine, or 350hp from engine with 0 ERS, or anything inbetween. Electronics will decide this depending on engine mode, fuel levels, laps remaining etc.

      Example 2, 100% throttle – engine will deliver as much power as it can depending on what is available. If there is no ERS energy, this would only be say 600hp, or less if in some fuel conservation mode. At full engine mode and with enough ERS charge it will give 750hp (approx).

      So i doubt drivers will be caught out by getting more or less power than they expect. I imagine they only use full throttle when they are sure the car is planted anyway, so a little distance into a straight or on a flat out bend. So the power differences at full throttle won’t matter from a control point of view. Besides, the driver will know engine mode and probably have some graphic for ERS stores so should know what to expect from the PU.

      i’m writing this to try and understand as i go, i might be completely wrong ;)

  28. Zain Siddiqui (@powerslidepowerslide)
    6th February 2014, 22:22

    I thought “full throttle ” hasn’t meant “full power” for a few years now. “Just give me full power, then, give me full power!” – Kimi Raikkonen, Belgium 2012

    1. It doesn’t, no, however Kimi also had kers problems in that race, so it could be that.

      1. Zain Siddiqui (@powerslidepowerslide)
        7th February 2014, 23:06

        James Allison said after that race that if they’re maintaining a good position during a race, they sometimes cut the power/fuel down, so I think power management from the pitlane has been going on for a while.

  29. Fascinating stuff. Many thanks.

  30. A bit whalloped here by people saying they don’t care about the environment.

  31. Why F1 bans the productive inventions and concoct stupid counterproductive limitations?
    They tell us they want to use F1 technologies in road cars?
    All the banned F1 inventions made by team engineers – traction control, active suspension etc. are widely used in road cars these days.
    Now imagine offering fast degrading tyres, mandatory stops, 100 kg per month fuel limit, strong unrealibility and (thank you, veeeeryyyy old chap Bernie!!!) double service bills at the year’s end – no matter how much or how loud you babble about environmental friendliness, cutting edge technologies straight from F1, no one buy such cars.
    Same is with F1 – no one wants to buy totally artifical show regulated by stupid gimmicks.
    Goodbye TV viewing figures and true sport principles, hello weeping DNFers and losers weeping in front of the cameras – I was trying to save the planet, you all know that every time F1 car finishes, somewhere a little rabbit dies…

    1. Driving to the shops isn’t a sport though….

  32. “Full throttle no longer means a demand for full engine power,” explained Renault’s technical director for new generation power units Naoki Tokunaga.
    “It is an indication to the PU given by the driver to go as fast as possible with the given energy.”

    This seems to indicate that theoretically if a driver were to change mode of the car for max performance, then they would have a huge advantage over whoever they are trying to overtake or get away from. Of course at the expense of fuel. So it then boils down to whoever saves fuel initially would be a big advantage later. Similar to saving tires which can be used later. Except the fuel advantage will not go away at all, infact it will keep accumulating.

    Will we see races where drivers drive slowly in the first part and make a fewer pit stop so that towards the end they will have a big advantage with fresh tires and a lot of fuel to burn?

    Definitely looking forward to the first few races.

  33. I’m confused. The MGUK can only harvest half the energy it can use per lap, I thought the MGUH could harvest the 2 MJ shortfall?

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