Boost of F-1 engines is prohibited, but Ferrari promises +30 hp. and +16 hp at the Mercedes. How did they do it?
The main loser demands to cover loopholes.
Winter is the time for active work on the Formula 1 technique , and insiders are already sharing the successes of minders : Ferrari promise +30 hp. gains, for Mercedes +16 hp, for Honda and Red Bull engines +10 hp, and only Renault is expected to be at last year’s level.
However, the rules actually promised to freeze the refinement of all power plant components in 2022: internal combustion engines for the sake of power cannot be updated since the summer, and the latest innovations in the hybrid part were accepted until September 1.
True, it is possible to make changes to the design of the motors: for the sake of “reliability, safety and cost reduction” along with minimal shifts in the layout (it turns out that the regulations allow repacking some nodes when the key points are shifted within 10-20 mm).
And, according to Renault chief minder Bruno Famin, the FIA should enforce the rules more strictly – Formula 1 is actually plunging into the gray zone of “updates for reliability”.
“In 2022, the FIA showed enough tolerance, because, of course, everyone had reliability problems, not just us. There were 30, 40, 50, 70 requests from different manufacturers for changes, because everyone faced difficulties. The FIA controlled the engines quite well. The work was transparent, everyone knew what requests the teams were sending – this is very cool. Now I expect that the FIA will act more strictly in the future.
This is a difficult question. It is impossible to say whether a potential gain in efficiency is hidden behind the problem with reliability. The line is not always clear. What is a pure honest reliability question?
If there is a problem with the water pump, as we have in 2022, it is quite obvious that this is a matter of reliability. Replacing the water pump does not improve efficiency.
But if you need to replace the material of the pistons, then okay – you can install something stronger, you can use more aggressive operating modes – thus, you can add power. And where is the limit? It’s not that obvious.”
And Ferrari can really play the “reliability” card, given the colorful fires on the scarlet cars in the middle of the season. Scuderia and its customers spent half of the races with reduced power – probably improving a few weak points will allow the Italians to use the engine at maximum capacity all the time.
Approximately the same can be said about Alpin: in Alonso’s car alone, the engine broke down 6 times. There is definitely something to set up.
Mercedes, on the other hand, spent the whole year in bulletproof terminator mode – 0 problems. Red Bull, after two failures in the first three Grand Prix, also did not complain about the engines.
But what do insiders say – all the promised improvements relate specifically to “reliability”?
Ferrari: fix cylinders and spark plugs + new fuel
Due to the upcoming freezing of engines in 2022, all manufacturers have prepared new versions of power plants. Ferrari also tried to take advantage of the situation and took a 100% risk: they prepared a “super-fast” engine (the real internal code name) based on the early ignition of fuel in the cylinders. The idea was to pre-ignite a small amount of a combustible mixture in a special chamber and force it into a conventional cylinder under high pressure – it was assumed that this would accelerate combustion, increase power output at a moment, and increase the efficiency of the power plant due to the exclusion of the “underburnt” mixture.
The idea worked, and the capacity of the Scuderia plants really grew. But by the middle of the season, side effects also appeared: the constant turning on of the technology at full capacity led to overheating and destruction of the candles, as well as the failure of the turbo, which had to pump the hot burning mixture. That’s why the engines were turned off after a colorful explosion on the Sainz’s car in Austria.
However, before the start of 2023, Haas chief Günther Steiner let it slip: former Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto promised a “motor bomb” .
But what did Ferrari do to add 30 hp? Is it thanks to them that the new car is a second faster in the simulator?
It seems so: several sources in the publications of SoyMotor, RacingNews365 and Italian Motorsport said that Maranello had prepared new material for engine parts in order to avoid new engine explosions. Apparently, from there a reference arose in an interview with the boss of the Renault engine division – he asked the FIA through the press if it was possible to do this at all.
Thanks to new alloys for cylinders and pistons, Ferrari will return the twisted 15 hp, and an additional 15 hp. will receive from the new more aggressive fuel mixture. The total increase in power will theoretically give 0.75 seconds per lap, and the new car should also be lightened by several kilograms and its aero body kit should be updated – according to theoretical calculations , a second gain relative to 2022 is really possible.
Mercedes: +16 hp with new fuel and upgrade of mechanical processes
The German manufacturer initially relied on the endurance of the installation – and the plan worked: 0 engine failures per year, although an innovative cooling system was developed for the sake of a new concept with almost no side pontoons! From there, the focus on quality instead of peak power: Mercedes wanted to make sure that the unusual chassis and engine became friends enough.
Also, the technical staff took up the problem of increased wear due to galloping:
“At the beginning of the season, there were difficulties with the power plant: we did not like some aspects regarding the release of energy and the controllability of the power plant,” Toto Wolff admitted after the season. “Despite the development freeze, the team was able to increase efficiency and cope with a difficult environment – a jumping car broke the engine.”
Now the eight-time champions have moved on to gradually squeezing additional potential out of the power plant: RacingNews365 insiders talk about upgrading the bearings, shaft and connecting rods. The goal is to reduce mechanical friction to improve engine efficiency, but the new parts are apparently going to be approved by the FIA as a “safety and cost savings gain” (because it’s hard to imagine how they will convince the regulator to improve for reliability).
Together with new lubricants and fuels from sponsor Petronas, the increase in power is estimated at 16 hp.
“Honda” + “Red Bull”: no physical improvements, but there is a gain
The current world champions found themselves in a difficult situation: in general, Honda formally closed the F-1 engine development project and sold all intellectual property to the team, remaining only an assembler. Consequently, Red Bull could not hope for a boost from physical details, and could not modify the equipment itself – after all, the units came already sealed from the factory, engineers from Milton Keynes do not climb inside .
Honda only changed a few parts of the pumping system that caused failures in the cars of Perez and Verstappen at the Bahrain and Australian Grands Prix. However, with them, the motor can be safely spun a little more actively.
Otherwise, the champions focused on software development and other aspects of functioning, primarily electrical and control electronics – RacingNews365 suggests that progress in total amounted to 10 hp.
Renault – without a win in the engine, but with questions to competitors and repacking to improve the whole car
Only the French manufacturer did not show up in insiders to increase power – but the company’s chief minder explained what improvements are considered legal in the Renault concern.
“Honestly, according to the rules, there is no significant reserve for increasing power, because you cannot improve performance,” explained Bruno Famin. “The only thing that can be done is to squeeze more out of the car, and the rules allow you to help this only through small changes in the layout.
For example, you can move the intake line or exhaust system to allow the chassis department to come up with a better aero kit. That’s what we’ve been working on – integrating the motor into the car. Even in the sense of architecture, very little is allowed.
We are also working on the use and management of energy, but again here we are very limited, and we will release one software update per year. We are focused in this direction, but now the whole difference will be more in the controllability of the power plant.”
The Ferrari engine was called the best last year, followed by Honda, and then Mercedes and Renault. However, the latter also refused most of all – now, it turns out, the French are again at risk of becoming outsiders.