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. Sunday 14 February 2016

  2. Wolff expects Manor to be midfield runner 09:44

    Wolff expects Manor to be midfield runner

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Manor Racing should make a substantial step forwards in 2016 and emerge as a "solid midfield…

    F1
  3. 09:04

    Photos: Honda's 2016 MotoGP challenger

    MotoGP
  4. Honda unveils 2016 RC213V colours 09:03

    Honda unveils 2016 RC213V colours

    Honda has unveiled its Repsol-associated RC213V, which will be piloted by Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa in the upcoming MotoGP…

    MotoGP
  5. Video of the Day: How do FE cars work? 05:00

    Video of the Day: How do FE cars work?

    How do Formula E cars work? This video explains how the components collaborate to produce a racing car.

    FE
  6. Saturday 13 February 2016

  7. Rossi: Two-year contract extension or nothing 10:46

    Rossi: Two-year contract extension or nothing

    Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi says he will only stay in MotoGP beyond the end of 2016 if he is willing to commit to a new…

    MotoGP
  8. In photos: Best Formula 1 test liveries 09:31

    In photos: Best Formula 1 test liveries

    Formula 1 testing is sometimes an opportunity for teams to introduce different ideas away from a Grand Prix weekend.…

    F1
  9. Video of the Day: Standout racing corners 05:34

    Video of the Day: Standout racing corners

    Formula E has put together an eight-strong compilation of some of the most iconic corners in motor racing.

    Misc
  10. Friday 12 February 2016

  11. 17:02

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  12. Armand completes Trident's line-up 16:00

    Armand completes Trident's line-up

    Indonesian racer Philo Paz Armand will make the step up to GP2 with Trident in 2016. Armand, 19, contested a selection of…

    GP2
  13. Ecclestone: Monza future still uncertain 14:53

    Ecclestone: Monza future still uncertain

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says the future of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza remains uncertain, and that progress over…

    F1
  14. Ferrari: No title in 10 years would be 'tragedy' 13:06

    Ferrari: No title in 10 years would be 'tragedy'

    Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne says that it would be a "tragedy" for the team to go 10 years without a title triumph in…

    F1
  15. Video: Tony Kanaan's Indy 500 tattoo 12:18

    Video: Tony Kanaan's Indy 500 tattoo

    IndyCar champion plus Indy 500 and 24 Hours of Daytona winner Tony Kanaan explains his new tattoo.

    Indy
  16. Baz eager to confirm test crash cause 11:25

    Baz eager to confirm test crash cause

    Loris Baz says he is eager to determine the cause of his high-speed accident during the opening pre-season test at Sepang, which…

    MotoGP
  17. Wolff: Wehrlein, Ocon in F1 'on merit' 10:17

    Wolff: Wehrlein, Ocon in F1 'on merit'

    Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff says that he is "proud" to see young drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon take on…

    F1
  18. Mexico City ePrix to be streamed in UK 10:05

    Mexico City ePrix to be streamed in UK

    Formula E's Mexico City ePrix will not be aired live on ITV4, with the series instead streaming it across various online…

    FE
  19. Vandoorne seals Super Formula drive 09:46

    Vandoorne seals Super Formula drive

    McLaren test and reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne has secured a seat in the Japan-based Super Formula series for 2016, the…

    F1
  20. ART confirms Matsushita for second term 08:57

    ART confirms Matsushita for second term

    ART Grand Prix has confirmed that it will run Nobuharu Matsushita for a second GP2 season in 2016. Honda-backed Matsushita…

    GP2
  21. Video of the Day: FE on sustainability 05:12

    Video of the Day: FE on sustainability

    Formula E drivers discuss the importance of a sustainable future for cities such as Buenos Aires.

    FE
  22. Thursday 11 February 2016

  23. Video: Ferrari fires up 2016 engine 16:37

    Video: Ferrari fires up 2016 engine

    Ferrari fires up its 2016 power unit as preparations gather pace for the new Formula 1 season.

    F1
  24. De Jong completes MP Motorsport line-up 14:15

    De Jong completes MP Motorsport line-up

    Daniël de Jong will contest the 2016 GP2 season with MP Motorsport, completing the team's line-up. Dutch racer de Jong, 23…

    GP2
  25. 'Engine parity would improve racing' – Key 12:53

    'Engine parity would improve racing' – Key

    Toro Rosso technical chief James Key says that engine parity would be a clear way of improving the racing in Formula 1, as the…

    F1
  26. Jordan moves into BBC Top Gear role 11:03

    Jordan moves into BBC Top Gear role

    Eddie Jordan has taken on a role with the revamped BBC show Top Gear following the broadcaster's early termination of its…

    F1
  27. Video: Mercedes power unit revealed 10:31

    Video: Mercedes power unit revealed

    Mercedes provides a detailed look at its Formula 1 power unit in the latest episode of its studio show.

    F1
  28. Miller to return to action at Phillip Island 10:12

    Miller to return to action at Phillip Island

    Jack Miller will return to action at next week's Phillip Island pre-season test, Marc VDS has confirmed. Miller, who has…

    MotoGP
  29. Ocon lands Mercedes DTM seat for 2016 09:35

    Ocon lands Mercedes DTM seat for 2016

    GP3 champion Esteban Ocon will contest the DTM in 2016, after landing a seat at Mercedes. Ocon, 19, combined his GP3 duties…

    DTM
  30. Wehrlein wants 'really good' team-mate 09:27

    Wehrlein wants 'really good' team-mate

    Pascal Wehrlein says he hopes that Manor will place a competitive driver alongside him for the 2016 season, as discussions…

    F1
  31. Moreno joins Aguri as reserve driver 09:18

    Moreno joins Aguri as reserve driver

    Ecuadorian racer Julio Moreno has joined Team Aguri as its Formula E reserve driver. Moreno, 20, last year contested FIA…

    FE
  32. MotoGP publishes final 2016 calendar 09:09

    MotoGP publishes final 2016 calendar

    MotoGP organisers have issued a final version of the 2016 calendar, with the Jerez and Brno rounds now fully confirmed, after…

    MotoGP
  33. Video of the Day: Drivers on Phoenix return 05:23

    Video of the Day: Drivers on Phoenix return

    Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Juan Pablo Montoya reflect on their recent test session at the Phoenix International…

    Indy
  34. Wednesday 10 February 2016

  35. Wehrlein to use number 94 in Formula 1 14:32

    Wehrlein to use number 94 in Formula 1

    Manor's Pascal Wehrlein will use #94 as his permanent race number in Formula 1. Wehrlein, whose Formula 1 graduation was…

    F1
  36. Background: Who is Pascal Wehrlein? 13:28

    Background: Who is Pascal Wehrlein?

    Pascal Wehrlein becomes the second rookie on the Formula 1 grid for the 2016 season after confirmation of his deal with Manor…

    F1
  37. Manor tips Wehrlein to make 'big impact' 11:35

    Manor tips Wehrlein to make 'big impact'

    Pascal Wehrlein has the talent to make a "big impact" with Manor Racing during his debut season in Formula 1, according to the…

    F1
  38. Manor confirms Wehrlein for 2016 season 11:11

    Manor confirms Wehrlein for 2016 season

    Manor Racing has confirmed that DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein will make his Formula 1 debut with the squad in 2016, meaning…

    F1
  39. Video: Red Bull drivers spur a stampede 10:06

    Video: Red Bull drivers spur a stampede

    Red Bull duo Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat spur a stampede in this video for clothing partner Puma.

    F1
  40. Redding: 2016 'make or break' year 09:46

    Redding: 2016 'make or break' year

    Pramac rider Scott Redding has described 2016 as a "make or break" year for his future in MotoGP, as the Briton prepares for a…

    MotoGP
  41. 'Wehrlein secures F1 seat with Manor' 08:52

    'Wehrlein secures F1 seat with Manor'

    DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein has landed a seat at Manor for the 2016 season, with a deal to be announced shortly, according to…

    F1
  42. Video of the Day: Suzuki Sepang review 05:27

    Video of the Day: Suzuki Sepang review

    Suzuki riders Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaró review the opening pre-season test in Malaysia.

    MotoGP
  43. Tuesday 9 February 2016

  44. New McLaren passes FIA crash tests 15:57

    New McLaren passes FIA crash tests

    McLaren's new Formula 1 car, the Honda-powered MP4-31, has passed the FIA's mandatory crash tests ahead of pre-season testing…

    F1
  45. 15:43

    Photos: Australian Grand Prix photocall

    F1
  46. MotoGP reveals Baz test crash data 14:02

    MotoGP reveals Baz test crash data

    MotoGP has revealed the full telemetry data from Loris Baz's frightening 290km/h pre-season testing accident at Sepang, with the…

    MotoGP
more news