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. Thursday 26 May 2016

  2. 19:02

    Latest F1 photos: Thursday in Monaco

    F1
  3. Button 'lucky' in drain cover incident 18:53

    Button 'lucky' in drain cover incident

    Jenson Button says he felt "lucky" to escape unharmed after his car struck a drain cover during first practice for the Monaco…

    F1
  4. Rosberg expecting 'very close' battle 16:24

    Rosberg expecting 'very close' battle

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg is expecting a "very close" fight with Red Bull at the Monaco Grand Prix, given the times posted in…

    F1
  5. Sirotkin flies to GP2 pole in Monaco 16:19

    Sirotkin flies to GP2 pole in Monaco

    ART driver Sergey Sirotkin secured pole position for ART Grand Prix during GP2's qualifying session after a stunning final lap…

    GP2
  6. Vettel: Ferrari better than practice display 15:34

    Vettel: Ferrari better than practice display

    Sebastian Vettel is adamant that Ferrari has a competitive car at the Monaco Grand Prix, despite a low key start to the…

    F1
  7. Ricciardo 'in a good window' after first day 15:07

    Ricciardo 'in a good window' after first day

    Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo says he is in "a pretty good window" after topping the first day of practice for the Monaco…

    F1
  8. 14:34

    Monaco Grand Prix: Full Practice 2 results

    F1
  9. Ricciardo puts Red Bull on top in FP2 14:32

    Ricciardo puts Red Bull on top in FP2

    Daniel Ricciardo put Red Bull at the top of the timesheets during Thursday afternoon's second free practice session for the…

    F1
  10. 12:52

    Follow second practice for the Monaco GP!

    F1
  11. 10:37

    Monaco Grand Prix: Full Practice 1 results

    F1
  12. Hamilton edges out Rosberg in FP1 10:35

    Hamilton edges out Rosberg in FP1

    Lewis Hamilton edged out Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg during Thursday morning's first practice session for the Monaco Grand…

    F1
  13. Bianchi family sue over 'avoidable' death 10:23

    Bianchi family sue over 'avoidable' death

    Jules Bianchi's family has announced that it will be taking legal action in the UK against the FIA, the Formula One Group and…

    F1
  14. Pirelli announces Germany compounds 08:58

    Pirelli announces Germany compounds

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has announced its compound selections for the German Grand Prix, with the red-marked Super Soft…

    F1
  15. 08:52

    Follow first practice for the Monaco GP!

    F1
  16. Wehrlein downplays 2017 Mercedes chance 08:36

    Wehrlein downplays 2017 Mercedes chance

    Pascal Wehrlein has insisted that he is not thinking about a Mercedes seat in 2017, despite Nico Rosberg being out of contact at…

    F1
  17. GP2 confirms Monaco qualifying groups 08:02

    GP2 confirms Monaco qualifying groups

    GP2 Series organisers have confirmed the qualifying groups for this weekend's second round of the season in Monaco. Under GP2…

    GP2
  18. Video of the Day: Räikkönen looks to Monaco 05:08

    Video of the Day: Räikkönen looks to Monaco

    Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen discusses the challenges of the Monaco Grand Prix ahead of this weekend's event.

    F1
  19. Wednesday 25 May 2016

  20. 18:04

    Latest F1 photos: Wednesday in Monaco

    F1
  21. Bianchi family unveils foundation for youngsters 18:03

    Bianchi family unveils foundation for youngsters

    The family of Jules Bianchi have unveiled a foundation created in his name, the Jules Bianchi Society, in order to support young…

    F1
  22. Hamilton: Crash reaction reflects maturity 16:26

    Hamilton: Crash reaction reflects maturity

    Lewis Hamilton believes that the way both he and Nico Rosberg reacted to their collision at the Spanish Grand Prix reflects the…

    F1
  23. Bottas hopes to end Monaco drought 14:39

    Bottas hopes to end Monaco drought

    Valtteri Bottas is confident that Williams can implement the lessons learned across the past few seasons as he chases his first…

    F1
  24. Ricciardo, Magnussen get Renault upgrades 14:04

    Ricciardo, Magnussen get Renault upgrades

    Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen will receive upgraded Renault engines this weekend, after the B-spec power unit was sampled…

    F1
  25. Ericsson: Monaco best Sauber chance so far 13:30

    Ericsson: Monaco best Sauber chance so far

    Marcus Ericsson believes this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix provides Sauber with its best opportunity of a top 10 finish so far in…

    F1
  26. Pérez: Tyre degradation hurting race pace 11:56

    Pérez: Tyre degradation hurting race pace

    Sergio Pérez believes tyre degradation is the reason why Force India cannot currently match the likes of rivals Toro Rosso and…

    F1
  27. Rabat has successful shoulder surgery 10:46

    Rabat has successful shoulder surgery

    Marc VDS has confirmed that MotoGP rookie Tito Rabat has started rehabilitation process following his crash at last weekend's…

    MotoGP
  28. Canamasas keeps Carlin seat for Monaco 10:18

    Canamasas keeps Carlin seat for Monaco

    Sergio Canamasas will once again compete for Carlin at the second round of the GP2 Series in Monaco, as championship organisers…

    GP2
  29. London ePrix set for season three change 10:09

    London ePrix set for season three change

    This season's Formula E finale around Battersea Park in London has been given the green light, though the championship will need…

    FE
  30. Preview: Monaco Grand Prix - Round 6 07:46

    Preview: Monaco Grand Prix - Round 6

    Max Verstappen became the youngest Formula 1 winner after Mercedes' duo clashed at the Spanish Grand Prix. But what will happen…

    F1
  31. Video of the Day: Red Bull filming day 05:28

    Video of the Day: Red Bull filming day

    Go behind-the-scenes with Red Bull during a team filming day at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

    F1
  32. Tuesday 24 May 2016

  33. 16:34

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  34. Video: Indy 500 qualifying highlights 15:12

    Video: Indy 500 qualifying highlights

    Watch highlights of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, in which James Hinchcliffe claimed pole.

    Indy
  35. Allison hails Ferrari test progress 13:52

    Allison hails Ferrari test progress

    Ferrari Technical Director James Allison reckons the team made solid progress with the handling of the SF16-H during the…

    F1
  36. Boullier: Monaco should suit McLaren 13:22

    Boullier: Monaco should suit McLaren

    Eric Boullier is confident that Monaco will suit McLaren's Honda-powered MP4-31 "more than other circuits", as the partnership…

    F1
  37. Video: Formula E dream driver line-ups 11:36

    Video: Formula E dream driver line-ups

    A selection of Formula E drivers reveal which motor racing stars they would love to go karting with.

    FE
  38. 'Negativity' hurts Sauber's investor search 11:02

    'Negativity' hurts Sauber's investor search

    Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn believes that the negativity surrounding Formula 1 is making it increasingly difficult to…

    F1
  39. Williams hopes for Monaco improvement 09:55

    Williams hopes for Monaco improvement

    Williams technical chief Pat Symonds hopes that the outfit can deliver an improved showing at this year's Monaco Grand Prix…

    F1
  40. Wolff: Mercedes must 'hit back hard' 09:06

    Wolff: Mercedes must 'hit back hard'

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that Mercedes must "hit back hard" at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, following a double…

    F1
  41. Grosjean helmet pays tribute to Bianchi 08:50

    Grosjean helmet pays tribute to Bianchi

    Romain Grosjean will pay tribute to the late Jules Bianchi with a special helmet in Monaco. Grosjean's design features a…

    F1
  42. Video of the Day: Indianapolis 500 preview 05:10

    Video of the Day: Indianapolis 500 preview

    A host of IndyCar drivers look ahead to this weekend's centenary edition of the prestigious Indianapolis 500.

    Indy
  43. Monday 23 May 2016

  44. Force India still looking to maintain fifth 15:22

    Force India still looking to maintain fifth

    Force India team boss Vijay Mallya says the outfit is still looking to maintain fifth position in the championship standings…

    F1
more news