Alpine A522 livery launch, 2022

Alpine found “real gains” from redesigned Renault power unit for 2022

2022 F1 season

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Alpine have found significant performance gains from the new power unit Renault has developed for the 2022 season, according to the team’s technical director.

Renault previously indicated it intended to adopt the layout used by Mercedes and Honda on their power units, in which the turbo and compressor are separated and joined by a connecting shaft, on its 2022 design.

Alpine’s technical director Matt Harman confirmed the team’s new car, presented today, was the result of an extensive re-think of its power unit.

“At the very beginning of these regulations we actually started with the power unit, mainly because it does set some of the key areas of the car aerodynamically,” said Harman. “We did a full review of this area of the car and we decided to change the architecture of that power unit extensively in all areas, including the internal combustion engine, the ERS system, the turbo and its positioning in the car.

“That has given us some real gains in terms of our ability to express ourselves aerodynamically and achieve the ultimate lap time of the car.”

Besides improving the performance of the power unit itself, Alpine also sought to make gains from its integration within the car.

“The RE22 is a power unit that we’ve reviewed back-to-front,” said Harman. “We have looked at every aspect of it in terms of its integration into the chassis, its base performance and the combination of the two.

“We’ve looked at the ERS system and its attributes. We’ve looked at the ICE, we’ve looked extensively on the structures that support the ICE. We’ve also looked at some of the electrical machines in terms of the MGU-K and also the turbo, making some quite big changes in that area to complement the A522 architecture and again, to allow us to extract maximum performance from both the power unit, the chassis and the combined product of the two.”

F1 power units will be frozen in specification this year, meaning manufacturers will not be able to revise them until they are replaced when new regulations arrive in 2026. Harman said the team therefore had to consider the likely future development direction of their car around hardware which will remain unchanged.

“It’s been an interesting programme because essentially with the power unit and also the integrated powertrain that supports it, we’ve had to look at what the performance of that power unit and how that will work for the car over the next X number of years,” Harman said. “And that’s given us some engineering challenges because we don’t fundamentally know everything about how we’re going to operate it.

“So we’ve had to make some simulations and we’ve taken some conclusions from that to enable us not only to design the power unit, but also design the transmission that is linked to it and how that transmission will need to change based on the aerodynamic developments that we’ll continue moving through, even though the power unit may be homologated and frozen at the 2022 stage.”

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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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  • 14 comments on “Alpine found “real gains” from redesigned Renault power unit for 2022”

    1. So Renault took a mere 8 years to shift away from their provenly unreliable and uncompetitive layout to one that won every single World Constructors’ Championship since its introduction.

      Quite quick, they are.

      1. Well, Ferrari still hasn’t switched over so Renault definitely is not the slowest manufacturer to catch on. What we shouldn’t forget ,though, is that the split turbo solution isn’t a silver bullet to unlocking maximum performance from the car. Does it help? Looks like it. Is it a must for a top level engine? Absolutely not.
        The cars are so complex (and have been for about a couple of decades now) that no single component or element, be it aero, engine or chassis, can make a significant difference in performance, the package has to work well together as a whole.

        1. Is it a must for a top-level engine? Absolutely not.

          Since the introduction of the current PU regulations, Formula 1 has been dominated by cars using a split turbo/compressor design. How many more years of this do we need to acknowledge it as the superior design?

          This is the same nonsense as with the high-rake cars that got beaten over and over and over again by a low-rake car but up and down the pit lane designers couldn’t let go of their beloved high-rake concept. Only when RP went low-rake did you see the realization (much too late) that there might be something to the concept, followed swiftly by a set of rule tweaks to make high-rake designs more competitive for 2021.

          Bringing it back to Renault, I suppose this was their last opportunity to stop sabotaging themselves with their own engine, so I’m glad they took it.

        2. it reminds me a lot williams bmw had a monster engine but the chassis was not so good.

      2. @proesterchen – had the same thinking… people complain about Mercedes but really they only have themselves to blame

      3. I don’t imagine things are that simple with engineering. And I don’t imagine because I know they are not. Even so, hindsight is a beautiful thing.

    2. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      21st February 2022, 20:31

      Bold move: you witch to an entirely different concept that took Honda and Mercedes a ton (understatement) of money AND time to improve to where they are now. I’m not exactly sure how the budgetcap works on engines, but heck: I doubt they managed to get it perfect in their first attempt. Means they’re still behind the top-dogs…

      1. @barryfromdownunder From my understanding, the budget cap does not apply to engine development. However, what Alpine have got to be wary of this year if the engine freeze, that essentially means they’re stuck with this PU until 2025 at the earliest. They can upgrade reliability (and that of course will allow them to exploit extra performance), but upgrades strictly for performance purposes are not allowed.

    3. It’s a genius plan!
      All the manufacturers will soon be held back for years by the impending engine design freeze, which will only allow design changes aiming to improve reliability. So by throwing away their previous design and starting from a completely clean sheet of paper just before the freeze, Alpine’s reliability will be very heavily compromised, maximising their opportunities for future ‘reliability’ design changes which just happen to also improve performance (as has been done by all manufacturers during previous freezes). I just hope they’ve explained this cunning plan to Fernando…

      1. If we go by the amount grief Honda had when they redesigned their engine with the split turbo, it does not bode well for Alpine.

        However, we have to remember, that Honda was the first team to follow Mercedes, hence there certainly was many unknowns. I believe since then, more knowledge on the split turbo would have been garnered, hence it may not be as bad. I supposed we can expect poor reliability for Renault this year.

    4. Yes….let’s hope it “works”, and they return to a higher level of competitiveness (unless, of course, you are a fan of some other team, or driver, and not F1 in general).

      A problem, I fear going forward, for the series as a whole, is that there will teams that will suffer engine performance deficits….and these will be locked in. Which is to say, there will be a stratification established among the teams that will be categorically reinforced by not allowing engine modifications DESIGNED TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE; and this will remain in place, as I understand it, through 2025.

      I understand, and applaud, the desire to control costs, but at what result to the health of a competitive series?

      I also question why a manufacturer would remain in a series which, by rule, limited the opportunity for advancement; especially if they found themselves significantly in arrears…..and they would remain so for, at least, three years.

      There must be some better way forward.

      1. @theroswellite: I wonder if you were around or maybe you missed it…but the PU freeze came about because of RBR and Honda. When RBR decided to go for their ‘own’ PU (after Honda bailed out of F1) and the fact that they wouldn’t have the infrastructure and personnel in place to compete with the established manufacturers when it comes to the development/upgrading of the PUs, RBR fiercely lobbied the FIA/F1 to freeze them. They even threatened to quit if they didn’t get their wish! I think there were some reports at the time that Mercs were not in favour but I think in the end they agreed to it in the interest of the sport. If RBR quit, so will Alpha Tauri and F1 couldn’t afford losing 2 teams! So basically, RBR held the sport at ransom and ‘forced’ the engine freeze.

        1. Thank you for reminding me……..yes, I do recall this situation and how it worked out. It will be interesting to see the
          relative competitiveness of the power units once the season is underway. I could imagine a situation in which RBR found themselves at an uncomfortable disadvantage to say Alpine and/or Mercedes and began to lobby for some modification of the “playing field” to allow them to recoup their former front row station. Or, perhaps I am simply being cynical?

    5. But will it be good enough for Andretti to use?

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