Power Unit 2026: Software is a critical factor – Formula 1

Formula 1 continues along the path of electrification, having recently approved the new regulations for hybrid engines for 2026, in which electric power will go from 120 to 350 kilowatts, in fact nearly tripling it compared to current values. though Big confusion about the possibilities of running such a powerful electric motor in a permanent way, since there are not enough power sources on board the vehicle. In fact, the MGU-H, the generator paired with the turbocharger unit, which would have allowed, by replenishing energy from the exhaust gases, to drive directly the main electric motor, the MGU-K, or the battery, would have disappeared. The compound whose charge can also drop no more than 4 megajoules of energy per lap, equivalent to just 1.1 kWh, confirming the power-lack tire that initially led Formula 1 to assess energy regeneration in braking also from the front axle.

Claudio Lombardian engineer with significant previous experience in the engine departments of Ferrari and Lancia, commented on the pages FormulaPassion.it How complicated is it to feed the hybrid part on new engines for a long time: The MGU-K will have 350 kW, or 476 horsepower. Despite this, there are already restrictions on the battery not on its capacity, but on the difference between the maximum and minimum wind-power level that can exist in the collector, which is 1.1 kWh. With this energy storage and 350 kW of power, On a straight line like that of Monza, each 1.1 kWh is consumedbecause by a simple arithmetic operation it is obtained that 10 seconds is enough to exhaust everything. ”

Going into detail, the regulation states that maximum electrical power decreases at higher speeds, decreasing from 350 kW given at 300 km/h to 150 kW at 340 km/h. By doing this, the MGU-K in series will be able to deliver maximum regulating power for times a little longer than the estimated ten seconds, but the fact remains that even with regeneration performed under braking, the hybrid system will override the lap in the power problem. So Lombardi anticipates that strategies for distributing electrical power through the cycle will be a more determining factor than what is currently happening: “I expect the teams will develop special programs to be economical in the use of 350 kWProgram varies from department to department. On a track with many stopping points, with a lot of power being stored during a lap, the scenario is different and you could have a higher average power output. In runs where the pilot does not need maximum power from the heat engine, a portion of this will be used to recharge the battery. Thus, the average power per lap will be a variable.”

Inevitably, the frugal management of electric power will make it extremely difficult to exploit 1,000 hp permanently. “The heat engine will have a fuel flow rate of about 70 kg / h”Contact Lombardy. “From my data going back to 2017, when the capacity limit was 100 kg / h, the power of the thermal engine alone was 700 hp, which reached 45-46% efficiencies, 70 hp was added to it. MGU-K. According to the information I have , from 2016/2017 until now, they would have improved these values ​​by 10%. So, if the overall efficiency was improved by 10%, you would go back to 770 HP with heat alone. Starting with that, the instantaneous range is reduced by 30% with the same efficiency, and down to 540 hp, with 476 hp for the electrical part It can instantly reach 1,000 horsepower combined, but not at average power per lap“.

Indeed, it is no coincidence that the FIA ​​and Formula 1 are studying aerodynamic and structural solutions capable of reducing fuel consumption and drag while maintaining current performance. “Future engine regulations will need certain aerodynamic characteristics to get a complete packageexplained in July Nicolas Tombazis, FIA Technical Director, A FormulaPassion.it. We have already done feasibility studies in the aerodynamic part to make sure that the goals we set are realistic and not ambitious. I think we’ve done that, to the point where we’ve actually given the teams some prototypes to allow them to run the checks to make sure they’re not on the wrong track.” However, although the cars’ speed performance may not be affected by the new power unit control strategies, software development could become an important technical challenge according to Lombardi: “If it all stays this way, The program will have a large range of electrical and thermal power distribution over the lap, which may differ from one department to another. This can become a decisive factor, and if they do not impose a standard program, it will lead to significant differences, going against the stream of goals that they themselves set.‘ concluded the engineer.

FP | Carlo Platilla

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