Formula 1 Teams Struggle to Develop Race Hybrids After Spate of Accidents

 

2563835630_4863ac3f20[1] Formula 1 teams are struggling to implement hybrid power-train technology following several development accidents in past weeks, revealing the challenge of harnessing a new technology at the cutting edge.

Following a freeze on engine development, Formula 1 teams are going hybrid from 2009 – additional power output can only be delivered by recovering kinetic energy under braking and releasing at again under acceleration. Whilst hybrid technology is widely proven in road cars, there are challenges in implementing a system that can fulfil the ultra competitive demands of Formula 1, with teams looking to build systems capable of delivering an additional 60 horsepower whilst weighing less than 35 kilograms.

Accidents

These challenges were aptly demonstrated recently after the Red Bull Formula 1 team factory was evacuated for 2 hours as fire crews dealt with a lithium battery explosion. Following this incident, a BMW team mechanic was hospitalised having received an electric shock from the body of a BMW hybrid Formula 1 car on its return to the pits following a test run.





BMW lead driver Robert Kubica this weekend admitted that he will avoid testing the new KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) until the system has been proven by other drivers – the significant amounts of energy  which will be stored either in lithium batteries, or in high speed flywheels could be problematic in the event of an accident, highlighting new safety issues for mechanics and track marshals. Several other drivers have also expressed concerns.

So far only a handful of teams have managed to test KERS systems on the track, and some teams are doubtful of their ability to develop and package systems that are light enough to avoid negating the power advantage they provide. Other teams have been critical of the need to develop new systems due to the ever increasing costs of competing in Formula 1 where top teams are spending close to $500 per year to field two cars.

The Future Of Road Car Technology?

However, other commentators have dismissed safety concerns, one senior engineer remarking that the energy stored is insignificant in contrast to the energy stored in the fuel tank. Others have pointed to the massive benefits that race developed technology has already brought to the road, suggesting that Formula 1 may now do the same for hybrids.

In particular, FIA president Max Mosley believes the rapid pace of technological development that will take place as teams invest in out competing each other may revolutionise the auto industry.

“To me, the crucial thing about KERS is that its inconceivable that in 50 years time, when you put the brakes on in your car, the energy will just burn off in heat. That won’t happen.”

“We’ve seen it so often in areas, and those devices will be crucial for the roads because if a KERS system is really light and can absorb all the energy, with super capacitors or flywheels, whatever its going to be, that’s really for the road, and if we advance it by several years, then that’s extremely useful and that alone can justify Formula One, because it will make such a huge contribution to the motor industry. “

“If you imagine you could have a super-efficient KERS system, five to 10 years sooner than you would otherwise get it, then multiply it by the number of cars in the world, then Formula One (costs) will be a drop in the ocean.”

Importantly, fans of Formula 1 will also benefit. Energy stored in the KERS system can be released on demand by the driver using a ‘boost’ button on the steering wheel. This promises to make overtaking more frequent by giving a following driver a sudden power advantage, thus greatly improving the show.

In a sport where innovation is constant, it is unlikely that the introduction of KERS will present insurmountable challenges to teams, and, crucially, the development of such technology ensures that Formula 1 continues to stay relevant in an increasingly environmentally conscious age.

Photo Credit: ph-stop via flickr Under a Creative Commons License






About the Author

  • F1 was always going to have a difficult time adapting hybrid technology to the most competitive motor racing in the world but at least they’re trying… in the end F1 will drive hybrid technology forward.

  • F1 was always going to have a difficult time adapting hybrid technology to the most competitive motor racing in the world but at least they’re trying… in the end F1 will drive hybrid technology forward.

  • F1 was always going to have a difficult time adapting hybrid technology to the most competitive motor racing in the world but at least they’re trying… in the end F1 will drive hybrid technology forward.

  • Energy lost through current braking systems is a big source of inefficiency and KERS will do well to minimize that, but there is another large source of lost energy, too.

    Aerodynamic drag is the biggest source of energy loss at high speeds and it can be defeated with a powered approach to aerodynamics not unlike the powered-downforce used on Jim Hall’s Chaparral 2J and the Brabham BT46B.

    Due to the phenomenal performance of those two cars, powered aerodynamic devices are currently outlawed but if powered suction fans were legal for racing use, they would generate meaningful increases in fuel economy in the near term and without the risks to drivers and spectators of un-tested batteries or flywheels.

  • Energy lost through current braking systems is a big source of inefficiency and KERS will do well to minimize that, but there is another large source of lost energy, too.

    Aerodynamic drag is the biggest source of energy loss at high speeds and it can be defeated with a powered approach to aerodynamics not unlike the powered-downforce used on Jim Hall’s Chaparral 2J and the Brabham BT46B.

    Due to the phenomenal performance of those two cars, powered aerodynamic devices are currently outlawed but if powered suction fans were legal for racing use, they would generate meaningful increases in fuel economy in the near term and without the risks to drivers and spectators of un-tested batteries or flywheels.

  • Energy lost through current braking systems is a big source of inefficiency and KERS will do well to minimize that, but there is another large source of lost energy, too.

    Aerodynamic drag is the biggest source of energy loss at high speeds and it can be defeated with a powered approach to aerodynamics not unlike the powered-downforce used on Jim Hall’s Chaparral 2J and the Brabham BT46B.

    Due to the phenomenal performance of those two cars, powered aerodynamic devices are currently outlawed but if powered suction fans were legal for racing use, they would generate meaningful increases in fuel economy in the near term and without the risks to drivers and spectators of un-tested batteries or flywheels.

  • @Dbirkenstock – The issue with your proposal as I see it is that the need to generate large quantities of aerodynamic downforce is irrelevant to roadcars, meaning that the world at large would not benefit from such innovations.

  • @Dbirkenstock – The issue with your proposal as I see it is that the need to generate large quantities of aerodynamic downforce is irrelevant to roadcars, meaning that the world at large would not benefit from such innovations.

  • Please read–Americans need to know!!!!!!!!

    NHTSA Hearings 8/4/08

    I just returned from the NHTSA hearings held today (August 4, 2008) in Washington D.C., regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for NEW Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards (CAFÉ) for years 2011-2015.

    IMPORTANT FACTS: You will not believe what you are reading.

    1) The 414 pages DEIS analysis was based on an average gasoline price of USD $2.16/gallon for 2011-2020. A calculation approved by the NHTSA administrators/managers. Would you believe it???????????

    2) The new CAFÉ rules were also established, negotiated and pre-approved by the NHTSA’s management along with the influence of domestic automotive companies and their lobbyists. We have now established fuel standards for 2011-2020 that presently are already met in the rest of the Western world (see below)

    As one guest speaker said today “are they on another planet?”

    NHTSA “NEW Fuel Standards” (2011-2015) decision:

    Automobiles are to achieve 31.2 mpg by 2011 and 35.7 mpg by 2015. Light trucks are to achieve 25 mpg by 2011, and 28.6 mpg by 2015.

    The NTHSA is also setting a goal of 35 mpg on average for 2020.

    America needs to know:

    The European Union is currently establishing standards, with a goal of reaching 48.9 miles per gallon for new passenger vehicles as early as 2012. The current EU standard already requires more than 40 miles per gallon about 15% higher than the U.S. goal set for 12 years from now.

    Japan currently has a standard of about 40 miles per gallon. Japan aims to further improve fuel efficiency by 17% by 2015, reaching 46.9 miles per gallon.

    China has a current average of slightly under 35 miles per gallon. Chinese fuel standards are on target to reach the government’s goal of 35.8 miles per gallon by 2009. China will not only meet, but exceed, the goal just established by the United States for 2020 — more than a full decade earlier.

    Australia is targeting 34.4 miles per gallon by 2010.

    Canada is targeting 34.1 miles per gallon by 2010.

    Under the current administration, purchasing an electric vehicle is becoming more of a necessity rather than an alternative.

    BG Automotive Group, Ltd.

    (www.BGelectricCars.com)

  • Please read–Americans need to know!!!!!!!!

    NHTSA Hearings 8/4/08

    I just returned from the NHTSA hearings held today (August 4, 2008) in Washington D.C., regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for NEW Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards (CAFÉ) for years 2011-2015.

    IMPORTANT FACTS: You will not believe what you are reading.

    1) The 414 pages DEIS analysis was based on an average gasoline price of USD $2.16/gallon for 2011-2020. A calculation approved by the NHTSA administrators/managers. Would you believe it???????????

    2) The new CAFÉ rules were also established, negotiated and pre-approved by the NHTSA’s management along with the influence of domestic automotive companies and their lobbyists. We have now established fuel standards for 2011-2020 that presently are already met in the rest of the Western world (see below)

    As one guest speaker said today “are they on another planet?”

    NHTSA “NEW Fuel Standards” (2011-2015) decision:

    Automobiles are to achieve 31.2 mpg by 2011 and 35.7 mpg by 2015. Light trucks are to achieve 25 mpg by 2011, and 28.6 mpg by 2015.

    The NTHSA is also setting a goal of 35 mpg on average for 2020.

    America needs to know:

    The European Union is currently establishing standards, with a goal of reaching 48.9 miles per gallon for new passenger vehicles as early as 2012. The current EU standard already requires more than 40 miles per gallon about 15% higher than the U.S. goal set for 12 years from now.

    Japan currently has a standard of about 40 miles per gallon. Japan aims to further improve fuel efficiency by 17% by 2015, reaching 46.9 miles per gallon.

    China has a current average of slightly under 35 miles per gallon. Chinese fuel standards are on target to reach the government’s goal of 35.8 miles per gallon by 2009. China will not only meet, but exceed, the goal just established by the United States for 2020 — more than a full decade earlier.

    Australia is targeting 34.4 miles per gallon by 2010.

    Canada is targeting 34.1 miles per gallon by 2010.

    Under the current administration, purchasing an electric vehicle is becoming more of a necessity rather than an alternative.

    BG Automotive Group, Ltd.

    (www.BGelectricCars.com)

  • Please read–Americans need to know!!!!!!!!

    NHTSA Hearings 8/4/08

    I just returned from the NHTSA hearings held today (August 4, 2008) in Washington D.C., regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for NEW Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards (CAFÉ) for years 2011-2015.

    IMPORTANT FACTS: You will not believe what you are reading.

    1) The 414 pages DEIS analysis was based on an average gasoline price of USD $2.16/gallon for 2011-2020. A calculation approved by the NHTSA administrators/managers. Would you believe it???????????

    2) The new CAFÉ rules were also established, negotiated and pre-approved by the NHTSA’s management along with the influence of domestic automotive companies and their lobbyists. We have now established fuel standards for 2011-2020 that presently are already met in the rest of the Western world (see below)

    As one guest speaker said today “are they on another planet?”

    NHTSA “NEW Fuel Standards” (2011-2015) decision:

    Automobiles are to achieve 31.2 mpg by 2011 and 35.7 mpg by 2015. Light trucks are to achieve 25 mpg by 2011, and 28.6 mpg by 2015.

    The NTHSA is also setting a goal of 35 mpg on average for 2020.

    America needs to know:

    The European Union is currently establishing standards, with a goal of reaching 48.9 miles per gallon for new passenger vehicles as early as 2012. The current EU standard already requires more than 40 miles per gallon about 15% higher than the U.S. goal set for 12 years from now.

    Japan currently has a standard of about 40 miles per gallon. Japan aims to further improve fuel efficiency by 17% by 2015, reaching 46.9 miles per gallon.

    China has a current average of slightly under 35 miles per gallon. Chinese fuel standards are on target to reach the government’s goal of 35.8 miles per gallon by 2009. China will not only meet, but exceed, the goal just established by the United States for 2020 — more than a full decade earlier.

    Australia is targeting 34.4 miles per gallon by 2010.

    Canada is targeting 34.1 miles per gallon by 2010.

    Under the current administration, purchasing an electric vehicle is becoming more of a necessity rather than an alternative.

    BG Automotive Group, Ltd.

    (www.BGelectricCars.com)

  • Cory

    Call me cold, but from my view accidents in motorsports are good, not because it makes for a better show, but because finding posible failure modes in new technology will make the cars we drive everyday safer. F1 is suposed to be dangerous, just like mountian climbing, and bull fighting.

  • Cory

    Call me cold, but from my view accidents in motorsports are good, not because it makes for a better show, but because finding posible failure modes in new technology will make the cars we drive everyday safer. F1 is suposed to be dangerous, just like mountian climbing, and bull fighting.

  • Chris

    What is up with all the MPG nonsense?!?!?!?

    Get with the program and use metric and not some senseless cr@p like “miles per gallon”!

  • Chris

    What is up with all the MPG nonsense?!?!?!?

    Get with the program and use metric and not some senseless cr@p like “miles per gallon”!

  • Chris

    What is up with all the MPG nonsense?!?!?!?

    Get with the program and use metric and not some senseless cr@p like “miles per gallon”!