Yes, dear friends, turbochargers will be back in Formula One after a quarter century of absence. Has it really been that long?
In 2013 1.6 liter turbos are the mandated power plants that will replace the 2.4 liter normally aspirated engines that F1 uses this season. The FIA has made this rules change in order to become more representative of the engines used in road cars, particularly European road cars. This new engine formula combined with a return of KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) is intended to reduce fuel consumption by 35% and therefore allow F1 to become “greener” than it is today.
KERS has not been a favorite of F1 teams who chose not to employ it even though it has been allowed this year. Past experience with the technology as used by GP teams has not been favorable. Who wants to drive an open wheeled Prius?
Today teams are limited to using eight engines in the season without penalty and when the new engines come into use for the 2013 season the limit will fall to a mere five engines. The following year it will drop to four engines. Sounds like horsepower might be limited to about 350 if they wish to get that kind of life out of an engine.
The FIA regulation changes indicate that driver behavior will be more closely reigned in. No more racing out of the pit boxes two abreast; more than one change of direction as a faster car is coming up on another will be considered blocking; crowding another car deliberately off the track – all will be considered infractions open to penalties. Heck, maybe they should just move to HPDE rules and require the overtaking car to receive a point in order to pass?
So will these turbo engines be four cylinder, v6, or v8 configurations? Four cylinder and limited to 16,000 rpm and fuel flow will be monitored and controlled to FIA limits. Horsepower is expected to be about 750.
Gound effects and downforce is supposed to be encouraged by new rules to make up for the limits on engine power production.
These changes should make 2013 and interesting Grand Prix season. You may want to keep an eye on the Izod Indy series as it looks like they will be more powerful and, with all the road course venues added, more like the racing of old.