Thursday, November 26, 2009

F1 Engines

James Allen reports on comparative studies of 2009 F1 Engines:
Most teams reached the conclusion, based on acoustic analysis and GPS, that the spread of engine power from the best to the worst engines was less than 2.5% this year. This means that, if the Mercedes is believed to have had 755hp, the least powerful engine was 18hp down, which is worth just under 3/10ths of a second per lap.
I find that 0.3 second per lap penalty from 18 horse power to be suspiciously large.

Power wise, the ranking is Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault, and Toyota.

Efficiency wise, the Renault was the best engine, the Ferrari the worst. This will be important next year as refueling is no longer permitted.

For 2010, Cosworth is claiming 770 horse power. That is another 15hp up on the Mercedes. As Allen notes, the Cosworth has much less reliability testing and fuel consumption is an issue.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Renault Preparing To Exit F1?

Joe Saward quotes Indian sources quoting Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosen about F1:
“F1 is one of the most-seen spectacles in the world,” he said. “It is facing some challenges: Challenges on how fair it is and how do you marry F1 with the environmental concerns. Can you bring zero emission through technology? So there are lots of questions about F1.”
“I don’t think it is going to be very important for anybody, if it doesn’t answer some of the concerns that surround F1,” he said. “I notice that in the last year, three car manufacturers have bowed out of F1. Three in one year! That means there are a lot of questions that we need to resolve.”
If we are reading the hall of mirrors here, one would have to say that Renault wants out, at least as a team participant. They will probably continue to provide and service engines for whomever wants them since it will be very difficult for teams currently committed to Renault to change now. Since there isn't much in the way of engine development permitted to go on any more, the costs of the engine is a sunk cost and supplying them can probably even be profitable.

Right now only Red Bull is an engine customer, and they were allegedly trying to get Mercedes power for 2010. But by now they are committed.

I think that once the FIA decides what penalty to give Toyota for bailing, Renault will follow shortly after.

Friday, November 20, 2009

2009, End Of An Era

So with 2009 winding down, we really do appear to be looking at the end of an era in Formula One. In the last year we have lost Honda, BMW, and Toyota. Renault hasn't decided what to do yet. This leaves Mercedes and Ferrari as pretty much the only major "manufacturers" still in the sport.

Toyota's departure was probably inevitable. Much was made of Toyota's goal to be in Formula One to beat Honda; and while Toyota managed to do that, Honda didn't make that a very high bar to clear. This year the word was that Toyota would have to win or be drummed out. While they came close at the beginning of the year, their challenge faded again as it has every year. When word came down in Brazil that Toyota was releasing their drivers to make other arrangements, the writing was pretty much on the wall.

I liked Toyota in Formula One even though they never really came to grips with the sport. I enjoyed watching them, and their participation was one factor which helped decide one of our car purchases.

I think that Formula One loses some of its legitimacy with the exodus of manufacturers from the sport. The presence of globally-recognized names helping to develop the cutting-edge technology needed to compete raised the level of prestige. The idea is that if a manufacturer has smart people who can make competitive race cars, they have smart people to make road cars, too. This may be totally faulty reasoning, but it is what I went with.

Next year will be a different year, with more private teams joining the sport. The levels of money in the sport will drop, and we will probably end up with a larger performance variation between the front runners and the back of the pack. If Renault does indeed withdraw, engine choice will be reduced even more (unless Renault does another Mechacrome/Supertek-style technology sale).

It will be interesting to see where Formula One goes from here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Time Out