This is my first post in this new category. We’ll start with the heart of an F1 car (any car for that matter), the engine. The engine of a modern Formula 1 car has a cubic capacity of 2400 cc and has eight cylinders arranged in vee. Hence it’s given the name, 2.4 V8. It’s a very complex piece of machinery that uses different alloys of metals for its different parts (like Aluminium alloy for the cylinder block, Inconel for the exhaust headers, forged alloy Steel for the crankshaft and so on). The Research & Development work that goes into an F1 engine is unbelievable. Hence, the materials used, the architecture all continuously evolve throught a season. The 2.4 V8 makes about 750 bhp. That’s an incredibly high figure! In comparison, your typical 2.4 litre engine (for example, that’s plonked into the Honda Accord, although its an inline four, which doesn’t matter too much in our discussion) makes about 140 bhp. (If you want to compare the Specific Output figures, which is the bhp produced per 1000 cc or 1 litre of an engine, the Honda stands at about 60 bhp/litre while the F1 engine has about 310 bhp/litre!) How come this much difference between engines displacing the same capacity? The answer is, while the Honda engine makes its maximum power at about 6500 rpm, the F1 engine makes that humongous 750 bhp at……hold on…..19000 rpm. Yes, its 19000 rpm.
Are those revs making all the horsepower difference? How does the F1 engine hold itself together as a single piece at those insane revs and how does it manage to rev that high in the first place? What are all the gizmos that make it a distant cousin to its road-going counterparts? What is the role of the numerous electronic componenets in that engine? Above all, how big is the engine and how much does it weigh? The above questions and more will be discussed in Part 2 of F1 Technology :: Engine.