F1 – PU 2022: the delicate balance between performance and reliability

One of the main themes of this season start of F1 2021 it concerns the reliability factor of the powertrain sector which is heavily penalizing the team Red Bull with only three finishers on the potential six. The technical revolution of next-gen single-seaters and the constraint of budget cap represent a huge challenge for all teams, in which the turbo-hybrid component seemed to be the only point of continuity with the cars of the previous generation.

In a hyper-technological discipline such as F1, where nothing is left to chance, even the smallest modification can make a difference and in this sense the increasingly large presence of carbon areas is emblematic so as not to weigh down the single-seaters with a few kilos of paint. The ambitious goal of FIA And Liberty Average for a Formula 1 with zero impactaimed at the progressive reduction of carbon footprint (the carbon footprint, or greenhouse gas emissions) to zero, began this year with the introduction of fuels E10.

With 10 percent ethanol, an innovation that required all engineers to make significant changes to their turbo-hybrid units. The words spoken in late January by Yasauki AsagiHonda development manager still involved in the Japanese giant’s project, in light of the current problems, appear as prophetic as they are full of concern:

“The introduction of fuel E10 it represented a great challenge. The engine architecture had already been setso we had to make some changes to get the best performance with the new gasoline E10“.

Power Unit components used in 2021

It is therefore legitimate to hypothesize that several factors are negatively affecting the reliability of the engines Red Bulllast season’s real strength in the fight at the top with Mercedes. The first cause can be alleged to the official withdrawal of Honda at the end of last season, despite on the bonnet of the single-seaters Red Bull And Bull Red camping logo HRC which appears more and more the simple memory of intellectual property of turbo-hybrid technology released under management to the new structure Powertrains from Milton Keynes.

The young structure built to manage the ex-Honda engines, made up of some technicians from the Japanese giant and a large injection of engineers removed from the Mercedescould serve a physiological phase of immaturity in the troubleshooting from failure which, according to the official statements of team principal Christian Hornerconcern different areas of the power unit.

Another factor to consider is that all the engineers have designed the new turbo-hybrid units with the aim of recovering the loss of power deriving from the use of biofuel and in an attempt to exceed last season’s overall power values ​​due to the block on development in the engine sector until 2025. The research of perfomance absolute before freezing in engine development is an approach already seen in F1when in 2006 it was decided to freeze research on internal combustion engines for seven years.

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the 2022 Italian power unit that equips the Ferrari F1-75

In that circumstance, the necessary search for maximum performance cost very dearly to the Ferrari it’s at Schumacherwho saw the rainbow dream fade into a cloud of white smoke at the Degner Curves from Suzukademonstrating however in the final stage in Brazil an embarrassing engine superiority that allows a Felipe Mass to win the Gp at home and at Michael to make a legendary comeback almost a lap late.

Last but not leastit is quite likely that the team Red Bull underestimated the potential of competitorand the unusual smiles of Marko & Co. in the three days of testing in Bahrain support this hypothesis. Displaced by the goodness of the technical project of the Ferrariit was necessary to exploit the full potential of the Austrian power unit, to allow the world champion to remain at least in the wake of the car number 16 of Leclerc even if this assumption is partially invalidated by the post-tender declarations of Vertappen in that of Melbourne.

According to the Dutchman, even before the start of the Australian Grand Prix he was aware of a problem with his car, a condition for which any team he would have opted for a conservative management of the vehicle. Now it is not known what the nature of the problem mentioned by Maxbut if it were to pertain, as plausible, to the turbo-hybrid component then the situation at home Red Bull that would be really critical.

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Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Scuderia Ferrari) in his F1-75 during the 2022 Australian GP

The performance and reliability shown by the F1-75 and in general by all motorized customers Ferrari. The original aerodynamic look of the red di Maranello it is enhanced by an engine that is a candidate to become the technical reference for both the endothermic component and the electrical part.

THE fastest lap repetition in the last part of the competition Australian Grand Prix they are really creepy for the competition. And if it were the redhead who traveled conversely, in style Mercedes at dawn the turbo-hybrid era, in order not to risk anything in terms of reliability but above all not to highlight an excessive technological power certainly not appreciated by Liberty Average promoter of a technical regulation aimed at performance balance?


F1-Author: Roberto Cecere@robertofunoat

Photo: Nicolas Carpentier@ NicolasF1i

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