It is a certainty that the rapid-fire experimentation that is going on in F1 will result in improvements to our everyday cars…
Even if you squint while looking at the Hybrid gas-electric car on your driveway, you likely have a hard time imagining it is anything like an F1 race car.
However, the new advanced hybrid technology at play in this 2014 season means that Formula 1 has never been closer to your driveway.
The car power units are 1600cc turbocharged V6 engines with direct fuel injection. They have to complete each race with 35 percent less fuel, with a maximum fuel load of 100kg (not litres) and the fuel flow is restricted to 100 kg/hour. That would mean your favourite driver would bow out half way through without further engineering help.
In addition, the power units have two electric motors, one linked directly to the turbocharger, the other working in the same way that the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) used to do. The result is a combined maximum power output of around 760bhp, which is similar to the output of the V8 cars of last year.
It is a certainty that the rapid-fire experimentation that is going on in F1 will result in improvements to our everyday cars. That’s the beauty of this highly competitive sport that is so geared to winning. Changes come faster because there’s no chance to undertake testing that takes an age under normal testing.
Last year, when I visited the Monaco Grand Prix as a guest of the Infiniti-Red Bull F1 race team, I chatted to Infiniti engineers who marvelled at the pace of improvement. Said one Infiniti engineer: “They do things so much more quickly than we can do under normal development processes because they have to. And the changes they make are so thoroughly tested on the track. It points two ways: sometimes what they do shows us the way to go but also the way not to go!”
Hong Kong-based Infiniti has made a very shrewd move in tying itself to the F1 team and particularly the reigning F1 champion Sebastian Vettel. The German racer is the marque’s Director of Performance. His association goes far beyond the typical celebrity endorsement, for he takes on a literal hands-on-the-wheel approach to his role.
Last year, I drove with Vettel on the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France. He talked enthusiastically about how he hoped to influence future Infiniti design and performance. At trackside, Infiniti personnel were impressed with his ability to tell them what changes they needed to make to its set up after only a couple of laps of the track.
He has played a significant role in the development of the compact Q30, which should surface later next year. He has already left his mark on the all-new Infiniti Q50 sport sedan and sports car enthusiasts pray a high-powered ‘Eau Rouge’ version of the car will hit the production line.
Now if I were a betting man I would say confirmation of production might be soon. Yours truly, will join the team again next month at the Belgian Grand Prix, at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps… location of the famous ‘Eau Rouge’ corner. We will drive Q50s from the south of England, through the Euro Tunnel and on to Spa.
Immediately prior to the race weekend, yours truly will join international journalists in a behind-the-scenes visit to the team’s UK base in Milton Keynes. There we will learn something about the fast track work they carry out on the F1 cars. I suspect we will get a peek in what is in store for that car on your driveway and you will read about it here.