Hybrid Vehicle - From pole position to the streets
The recent developments and discussions in the Formula 1 are indicating that this sport is also going for a hybrid vehicle. Current discussion is on the engine volume, where it is proposed to go from 2.4 to 1.6 litre engines. This would force the designers to get more horsepowers out of less fuel. The other news supporting the hybrid approach in F1 is the (re)introduction of the KERS system. There are a few reasons for the to make a move towards the smaller engines; the sustainability lobby, equalizing the playfield for all teams and last but not least: advertisements.
F1 cars becoming like a Prius?
With the current coverage and attention for sustainability it is hard for anybody to ignore this issue. Especially for a sport that is so associated with high consumption of resources. Greening the F1 image is just the logical thing to do, even though the main focus will always remain on being the fastest driver, not the one who has spent the least amount of fuel during a race.
By creating a set of rules for the teams on how to design the car, the chances of winning are more equal for all teams. Long before any of these rules were implemented, the team with the fattest budget had the highest chance to win. By specifying the engine size to be 1.6 litre, also other engine manufacturers can join the race; for example VW is looking at joining the F1 championship under these new rules. In the end a sport should be less about such budgets and more about the good sportmanship, equal chances for everybody boost this a lot.
Lastly the advertising industry is also an important factor to consider; it is said that some brands or parties do not want to be associated with a sport with such a squandering reputation. If the F1 can be made even a little more sustainable, these brands and parties might be interested to buy advertisement space on the F1.
The (re)introduction of the KERS system is also a fact, though the specs of what such a system should meet are not clear yet. Regardless of the specs, it will enable drivers to regain their braking energy, leading to a more efficient overall performance; just like in the normal hybrid vehicle.
The Honda KERS system mounted in a F1 car.
In a recent article about Honda detailing the F1 KERS system they had to design, there were some nice specs too; the initial design criteria were to have a very small, compact and light weight motor which would have about 8 kW per kilogram. A lot higher power density than a normal electric motor which is in the range of 1.0 - 2.5 kW per kilogram. The final result which was used during the race the density was 7 kW per kilogram. It it design rules like this that force such breakthroughs and after the inital testing in the F1 it will be implemented by the big car manufacturers in their commercially available vehicles.
In the end these changes will make the F1 cars not only morw sustainable, but also they will become more like the hybrid vehicle everybody is getting more familiar with. The hopes it will contribute to the awareness of people and makes then drive sustainable too. The F1 is a bit like the Space Industry for the Automotive, where extreme conditions and requirements result in new ideas that will hit the streets and benefit us all in a later stage.
Source: Electric Vehicle News
Source: Green Car Congress