Interview with Renault F1's Rob White

Interview with Renault F1's Rob White

11 December 2013 – Rob White, Renault Sport F1’s deputy managing director, looks back on the V8 era, which came to an end in Brazil last month, when the curtain dropped on the 2013 F1 World Championship...


Rob, what have been the key evolutions of the V8 since 2006?
The easy thought is to say that there can be no evolutions during an engine freeze! However there have still been several notable changes in the use and requirements for engines in the V8 era. In fact, almost every year there has been a change. The first, for 2007, was a homologation or freeze of the major parts and introduction of a rev limit. Then for 2008, the homologation perimeter was extended, and the SECU introduced. In 2009, the limit of eight engines per driver per season was introduced and the rev limit was reduced from 19,000rpm to 18,000rpm. More recently, we have also had successive clarifications on engine mapping and usage.

With F1 being what it is, the challenge has been to produce the best car performance under each new set of constraints. In parallel, we have had to adapt to a much more complicated engine lifecycle and longer engine life.

In previous times, it was possible to fit engines at will: you could fit a new engine for a race and then replace for the next round. This meant you could push it to the absolute limits without taking account of any future usage. The limit of eight engines per season, means some engines must be used for three races. We have therefore learned a lot about increasing engine and component life, without any major technology change or performance penalty. As a result engines can now run for up to 2,500km without any significant power drop off. In the past engine life was just over 350km, so we are running to more than seven times the distance of twelve years ago.

Without the engine freeze and limit on rpm, what would these engines be capable of?
Without the rev limit we would have continued to pursue greater rpm until we became limited by the physics of the combustion process and diminishing returns due to increased friction with increasing rotational speed. Without any other new regulatory constraint, I imagine we would have reached over 22,000 rpm by now and would have found a further 75 horsepower (ie +10%), equivalent to a lap time gain of around 2 sec at Monza.

Without doing the development work, it is difficult to judge the level at which engine performance would have converged at the limit of the technical regulations. The same effects that have been pursued in the frozen era (exhausts, mapping etc) would have been of interest, but the priorities may have been different.

How different are the engines fielded by different manufacturers now?
Many people assume that the engines are similar since the specification has been frozen, however they are all very different as the specifications were frozen at a point in time where the V8 was relatively immature. The technical regulations are strict and there are some common characteristics including the bore size and rpm limit, but there are many thousands of design decisions that are not fixed in the regulations. Perhaps it is not obvious but, in an unfrozen environment there is more opportunity to converge on common solutions between engine suppliers. The engine contribution to car performance is just as important now; even if frozen in performance, the impact on the car remains as important as it ever has been.

What have been the most difficult parts to optimize, or maintain, in the current V8s?
There are no easy subjects in a Formula One engine. All of the systems and parts require a great deal of attention, care and maintenance. However the most difficult parts to maintain are the perennial stressed parts such as the pistons, connecting rods and bearings that the power travels through. For example the pistons are stressed to more than 8,000 times the force of gravity (they accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in less than 1/2000th of a sec). The actual weight of a piston is only 250g but when the engine revs to its maximum limit of 18,000rpm (that’s 300 revs per second!) the acceleration exerts a force of 2 tonnes on the piston and conrod.

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Friday 30 September 2016

  2. Renault: Valve problem led to Magnussen fire 12:12

    Renault: Valve problem led to Magnussen fire

    Renault Technical Director Nick Chester has confirmed that a problem with the valve on a fuel breather pipe triggered Kevin…

    F1
  3. Force India 'very confident' Pérez will stay 10:53

    Force India 'very confident' Pérez will stay

    Force India Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley has reiterated that the outfit is "very confident" over Sergio Pérez remaining…

    F1
  4. 10:36

    Latest GP3 photos: Friday at Sepang

    GP3
  5. Leclerc leads ART 1-2-3 in Sepang qualifying 10:35

    Leclerc leads ART 1-2-3 in Sepang qualifying

    Ferrari protégé Charles Leclerc extended his GP3 Series title advantage to 28 points after taking his fourth pole position of…

    GP3
  6. Verstappen optimistic over long run pace 09:50

    Verstappen optimistic over long run pace

    Max Verstappen feels that Red Bull is looking "very strong" on its long run pace after the first day of practice for the…

    F1
  7. 09:42

    Latest GP2 photos: Friday at Sepang

    GP2
  8. Gasly beats title rival Giovinazzi to pole 09:41

    Gasly beats title rival Giovinazzi to pole

    Pierre Gasly extended his GP2 Series advantage to 14 points after beating Prema team-mate and title rival Antonio Giovinazzi to…

    GP2
  9. 09:32

    Latest Formula 1 photos: Friday at Sepang

    F1
  10. Hamilton: First day a 'good building block' 09:28

    Hamilton: First day a 'good building block'

    Lewis Hamilton has called his first day of practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix a "good building block", after struggling in…

    F1
  11. Vettel urges Ferrari to take any chances 09:10

    Vettel urges Ferrari to take any chances

    Sebastian Vettel has urged Ferrari to take any opportunities that come its way over the final six races of the season, starting…

    F1
  12. 08:35

    Malaysian Grand Prix: Full Practice 2 results

    F1
  13. Hamilton moves ahead in second practice 08:33

    Hamilton moves ahead in second practice

    Lewis Hamilton moved to the top of the times during Friday afternoon's second free practice session for the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  14. 06:51

    Follow second practice for the Malaysian GP!

    F1
  15. Renault hopes to run Magnussen in FP2 04:59

    Renault hopes to run Magnussen in FP2

    Renault is hopeful of fielding Kevin Magnussen during Friday afternoon's second practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix…

    F1
  16. 04:36

    Malaysian Grand Prix: Full Practice 1 results

    F1
  17. Rosberg comfortably tops FP1 at Sepang 04:35

    Rosberg comfortably tops FP1 at Sepang

    Nico Rosberg comfortably topped the timesheets during Friday morning's opening free practice session for the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  18. First practice red flagged after Magnussen fire 03:38

    First practice red flagged after Magnussen fire

    Friday's first practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix was red flagged after Kevin Magnussen's car caught fire in the pit…

    F1
  19. 02:52

    Follow first practice for the Malaysian GP!

    F1
  20. Magnussen: Team-mate Palmer underrated 02:24

    Magnussen: Team-mate Palmer underrated

    Kevin Magnussen believes his reputation has been hindered by having a rookie team-mate, commenting that Jolyon Palmer is…

    F1
  21. Video of the Day: Bottas' 'My Path' - #1 01:00

    Video of the Day: Bottas' 'My Path' - #1

    Valtteri Bottas begins his 'My Path' series which tells his story of becoming a Formula 1 driver with Williams.

    F1
  22. Thursday 29 September 2016

  23. Video: Daniel Ricciardo on season so far 16:02

    Video: Daniel Ricciardo on season so far

    Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo discusses his season so far and racing alongside with Max Verstappen.

    F1
  24. Mercedes set for first 2016 title chance 15:32

    Mercedes set for first 2016 title chance

    For the third successive season Mercedes has an opportunity to clinch the Constructors' championship at the 16th round of the…

    F1
  25. Ed Carpenter Racing confirms Newgarden exit 15:04

    Ed Carpenter Racing confirms Newgarden exit

    Ed Carpenter Racing has confirmed that Josef Newgarden will not return to the team for the 2017 IndyCar season. Newgarden has…

    Indy
  26. Canada chiefs confident over 2017 F1 race 14:40

    Canada chiefs confident over 2017 F1 race

    Organisers of the Canadian Grand Prix say they remain "confident" that an agreement will be reached between local officials and…

    F1
  27. 12:04

    Latest F1 photos: Thursday at Sepang

    F1
  28. Massa has no regrets over retirement call 12:02

    Massa has no regrets over retirement call

    Felipe Massa says he has no regrets over his decision to retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season, and insists his…

    F1
  29. Drivers offer views on new track surface 10:36

    Drivers offer views on new track surface

    Formula 1 drivers have offered their views on the resurfacing and reprofiling work at Sepang, with Jenson Button suggesting that…

    F1
  30. Video: Vettel previews Malaysian GP 10:22

    Video: Vettel previews Malaysian GP

    Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel looks ahead to the Malaysia Grand Prix as he goes in search of back-to-back victories.

    F1
  31. Steiner rules out Leclerc for 2017 seat 09:05

    Steiner rules out Leclerc for 2017 seat

    Haas team boss Guenther Steiner has ruled out giving a race seat to Ferrari youngster Charles Leclerc for 2017, stating that a…

    F1
  32. Alonso to trial upgraded Honda engine 08:28

    Alonso to trial upgraded Honda engine

    Fernando Alonso will test an updated engine during practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, as Honda works through its final…

    F1
  33. Sainz Jr. says Renault interest an 'honour' 07:15

    Sainz Jr. says Renault interest an 'honour'

    Carlos Sainz Jr. has admitted that Renault's interest in acquiring his services is an "honour", though insists his current…

    F1
  34. Brazil organisers surprised by 'TBC' status 07:13

    Brazil organisers surprised by 'TBC' status

    Organisers of the Brazilian Grand Prix have expressed surprise that their race has been given provisional status on next year's…

    F1
  35. Pérez: Next week 'crucial' for F1 future 06:41

    Pérez: Next week 'crucial' for F1 future

    Sergio Pérez says that the next week will be "crucial" for his Formula 1 future as he looks to finally confirm where he will be…

    F1
  36. Comtec in line for V8 3.5 return at Jerez 05:02

    Comtec in line for V8 3.5 return at Jerez

    Comtec will make a return to the Formula V8 3.5 championship at Jerez next month with Australian youngster Thomas…

    FV8 3.5
  37. Video of the Day: Life in the pit lane - #4 04:04

    Video of the Day: Life in the pit lane - #4

    Andy McMillan discusses his 'wheel off' duties in the next part of Williams' 'Life in the pit lane' series.

    F1
  38. Wednesday 28 September 2016

  39. 18:44

    Latest F1 photos: Wednesday at Sepang

    F1
  40. Formula E 2016/17 calendar confirmed 18:43

    Formula E 2016/17 calendar confirmed

    Formula E's 2016/17 calendar has been formally confirmed, ahead of next weekend's season-opening round in Hong Kong. The…

    FE
  41. McLaren gets 2018/19 FE battery deal 18:32

    McLaren gets 2018/19 FE battery deal

    McLaren Applied Technologies has been confirmed as the exclusive battery supplier to the Formula E championship for the 2018/19…

    FE
  42. Early 2017 compound choices mandatory 17:51

    Early 2017 compound choices mandatory

    The FIA's World Motor Sport Council has revealed that Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli will mandate the number of sets of…

    F1
  43. FIA reveals provisional 2017 F1 calendar 17:37

    FIA reveals provisional 2017 F1 calendar

    The FIA's World Motor Sport Council has released a largely unchanged provisional 2017 Formula 1 calendar, which will once again…

    F1
more news