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 26 March 2017

  2. 20:48

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Losail

    MotoGP
  3. 20:47

    In full: Qatar Grand Prix race results

    MotoGP
  4. Viñales victorious in scintillating Qatar race 20:28

    Viñales victorious in scintillating Qatar race

    Maverick Viñales claimed victory on his Yamaha debut after prevailing against Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso during a thrilling…

    MotoGP
  5. 18:00

    Starting grid for the Qatar Grand Prix

    MotoGP
  6. 16:07

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday in Melbourne

    F1
  7. Clear: Australia win 'fell into our hands' 16:05

    Clear: Australia win 'fell into our hands'

    Ferrari's Head of Race Activities Jock Clear believes victory at the Australian Grand Prix "fell into our hands" after early…

    F1
  8. Giovinazzi lauds 'fantastic' F1 debut 12:26

    Giovinazzi lauds 'fantastic' F1 debut

    Sauber's Antonio Giovinazzi hailed a "fantastic" weekend as he claimed 12th place on his Formula 1 debut at the Australian Grand…

    F1
  9. Massa delighted to lead midfield charge 11:38

    Massa delighted to lead midfield charge

    Williams' Felipe Massa labelled himself as "really happy" as he led the charge in Formula 1's midfield by placing sixth at the…

    F1
  10. Sainz Jr. hails 'confidence boost' for STR 11:02

    Sainz Jr. hails 'confidence boost' for STR

    Carlos Sainz Jr. says Toro Rosso's performance at the Australian Grand Prix has acted as "confidence boost" for the team…

    F1
  11. Pérez reckons seventh place maximum 10:27

    Pérez reckons seventh place maximum

    Sergio Pérez believes he extracted the maximum from Force India's potential as he finished in seventh position at the…

    F1
  12. 10:02

    Follow GPUpdate on Instagram in 2017!

    F1
  13. Wolff: Ferrari had quicker package in race 09:24

    Wolff: Ferrari had quicker package in race

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has conceded that Ferrari simply had the quicker package during the Australian Grand Prix, highlighting…

    F1
  14. Alonso: McLaren last 'in normal conditions' 09:08

    Alonso: McLaren last 'in normal conditions'

    Fernando Alonso fears that McLaren-Honda could be Formula 1's slowest team "in normal conditions", despite an encouraging…

    F1
  15. Ricciardo: Separate issues caused dramas 08:57

    Ricciardo: Separate issues caused dramas

    Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo says two separate issues on his RB13 compounded his dismal Australian Grand Prix weekend, as he…

    F1
  16. Marchionne praises Ferrari's winter push 08:36

    Marchionne praises Ferrari's winter push

    Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne has reacted to Sebastian Vettel's victory at the Australian Grand Prix with a statement…

    F1
  17. Hamilton 'ran out of grip' during first stint 08:29

    Hamilton 'ran out of grip' during first stint

    Lewis Hamilton conceded he simply "ran out of grip" during the first stint of the Australian Grand Prix, as he missed out on…

    F1
  18. Vettel 'over the moon' with Australia win 08:07

    Vettel 'over the moon' with Australia win

    Sebastian Vettel described himself as "over the moon" after he opened his and Ferrari's 2017 Formula 1 campaign with victory at…

    F1
  19. 07:39

    In full: Australian Grand Prix race results

    F1
  20. Vettel beats Hamilton to Australian GP win 07:36

    Vettel beats Hamilton to Australian GP win

    Sebastian Vettel beat Lewis Hamilton to victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, after going longer on a one-stop…

    F1
  21. 05:34

    Follow the Australian Grand Prix live!

    F1
  22. Williams gets suspended fine over gearbox 05:16

    Williams gets suspended fine over gearbox

    Williams has been handed a €25,000 fine, suspended for the entirety of the season, after failing to inform the FIA of its…

    F1
  23. 05:02

    Starting grid for the Australian Grand Prix

    F1
  24. Ricciardo hit with five-place grid penalty 03:27

    Ricciardo hit with five-place grid penalty

    Daniel Ricciardo has been dealt another blow at his home event in Australia, with Red Bull changing his gearbox after he crashed…

    F1
  25. Pirelli expects one-stop Australia race 03:12

    Pirelli expects one-stop Australia race

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli is expecting a one-stop strategy to emerge as the favoured approach by drivers for the…

    F1
  26. Mercedes braced for 'big fight' with Ferrari 02:44

    Mercedes braced for 'big fight' with Ferrari

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the team is braced for a "big fight" with rival Ferrari ahead of the season-opening Australian…

    F1
  27. Alonso: McLaren 'better than expected' 02:32

    Alonso: McLaren 'better than expected'

    Fernando Alonso says that McLaren-Honda's Australian Grand Prix weekend has gone "better than we'd expected" after pre-season…

    F1
  28. Video of the Day: Formula 1 2017 explained 02:01

    Video of the Day: Formula 1 2017 explained

    Ahead of the season-opener, Lewis Hamilton provides a refresher on what's new in F1 in 2017.

    F1
  29. Saturday 25 March 2017

  30. 18:28

    Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Losail

    MotoGP
  31. Viñales, Márquez back qualifying cancellation 18:27

    Viñales, Márquez back qualifying cancellation

    Yamaha's Maverick Viñales and Repsol Honda's Marc Márquez backed the call made by MotoGP officials to cancel all of Saturday's…

    MotoGP
  32. MotoGP cancels qualifying, pole for Viñales 17:23

    MotoGP cancels qualifying, pole for Viñales

    MotoGP has cancelled all of Saturday's action for the floodlit Qatar Grand Prix due to inclement weather conditions at Losail…

    MotoGP
  33. Rossi: Corner entry weakness hurting pace 14:22

    Rossi: Corner entry weakness hurting pace

    Yamaha's Valentino Rossi says he is still suffering from a lack of speed on corner entry after scraping through to Q2 at the…

    MotoGP
  34. 13:12

    Latest F1 photos: Saturday in Melbourne

    F1
  35. Giovinazzi thought F1 call-up was a joke 13:02

    Giovinazzi thought F1 call-up was a joke

    Formula 1 debutant Antonio Giovianzzi says he thought he was being tricked when he received the news that he would be competing…

    F1
  36. Bratches: No shortage of aspiring F1 hosts 12:46

    Bratches: No shortage of aspiring F1 hosts

    New Formula 1 commercial chief Sean Bratches says that he has received a substantial number of enquiries from venues keen to…

    F1
  37. Williams referred to stewards over gearbox 12:31

    Williams referred to stewards over gearbox

    Williams has been referred to the Australian Grand Prix stewards after failing to notify the FIA of its intention to replace the…

    F1
  38. Magnussen rues 'messed up' qualifying runs 11:20

    Magnussen rues 'messed up' qualifying runs

    Haas' Kevin Magnussen admitted he "messed up" his qualifying runs through overdriving as he was knocked out of Q1 at the…

    F1
  39. Ocon eyes first points from 14th place 10:12

    Ocon eyes first points from 14th place

    Esteban Ocon is optimistic that he can make amends for a mistake on his final flying lap in Q2 to compete for points during his…

    F1
  40. Sainz Jr. relieved after Q1, Q2 struggles 10:00

    Sainz Jr. relieved after Q1, Q2 struggles

    Carlos Sainz Jr. says he was relieved to take eighth on the grid for the Australian Grand Prix after struggling with the balance…

    F1
  41. Pérez escapes with reprimand for violation 09:08

    Pérez escapes with reprimand for violation

    Force India's Sergio Pérez has escaped with a reprimand after the stewards deemed that he breached the regulations during…

    F1
  42. Pérez summoned over alleged rule breach 08:43

    Pérez summoned over alleged rule breach

    Sergio Pérez has been summoned by the Australian Grand Prix stewards over an alleged rule breach during Saturday's qualifying…

    F1
more news