The 6th Formula One race of the season is set for Canada next weekend, and there are still F1 fans who do not fully understand the new technical rules package for 2014. Judging by on-track performance, a few of the teams are having the same problem. To remedy this, the folks at Sauber have created a guide to the new rules that is easy to understand, and makes a complex topic less mysterious.
For 2014, Formula One has adopted an entirely new engine and powertrain package. Gone are the naturally aspirated V-8’s of last year that cranked out 750 hp. This year, the engines are 1.6 liter turbocharged 90 degree V-6’s that make some 600 hp. So the new cars are a lot slower than the older cars, right?
Not necessarily. The zen masters of Formula One want to make the sport more eco-friendly and”relevant” to production cars, so the new cars are full hybrids that squeeze the maximum amount of energy from each drop of fuel. Turbos are part of this process, of course, but the new power units also have an Energy Recovery System (ERS) made up of an MGU=K unit and an MGU=H unit.
Huh? MGU? =K? =H? What’s up with that??? This is where the Sauber guide comes in very handy, telling you everything you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask for fear of appearing dumb.
MGU stands for Motor Generating Unit. K stands for kinetic and H stands for heat. The MGU-K helps propel the car forward and then harvests that forward motion upon braking to recharge the battery pack. The MGU-H is essentially a small generator that is powered by the turbocharger. It also makes electricity that is stored in the battery.
All of this technical wizardry is controlled by a sophisticated electronic control unit (ECU). The ERS unit contributes about 160 extra hp to the engine package, bringing the total back to roughly that of the V-8’s. However the turbo engine makes more torque at lower engine speed, which means the new cars actually accelerate faster than last year’s cars.
There are lots more changes to the 2014 rules that are covered in full by the Sauber guide. Reading it will make you an instant expert and allow you to impress all your clueless friends.