October 1, 2012 5:42 PM  |  Posted By: Aaron Smith
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Related Categories: motorsport

As I’m sure you’re all aware, it's pretty much set in stone that next year will be the last of the normally-aspirated 2.4-litre V8 engine era, when the pinnacle of motor racing returns to small-capacity turbocharged donks with six pots instead of four.

Unlike some, my main concern is not the noise these ecomentalist-friendly lumps will offer us, so long as the power they will be allowed to produce is in keeping with what Formula One should be all about, ie brutal, mega power allied to technological sophistication.

We’re currently informed that proposed 2014 engines will be restricted to 15,000rpm (the last turbo era engines were hitting around 14,000rpm) and six cylinders is always going to be better than four. Plus Bernie Ecclestone – for all his questionable decisions in the past – is actually our martyr in terms of a no-holds-barred approach to the sport we love and is taking the fight to the FIA. When it comes to engines he couldn’t give two-hoots about greener lumps, as long as they provide the power and sound the nuts. And if he had his way, we’d see normally-aspirated motors into 2014 and beyond.

Back in June 2004, after Ralf Schumacher’s massive 195mph shunt at Indianapolis during the United States grand prix, Max Mosley threw his toys, whips and gimp-mask out of the pram and announced enough was enough – the cars had to be slowed down to increase safety and reduce costs. The screaming, 900+bhp 3.0-litre V10s capable of 230+mph were discarded for Mosley’s blueprint we see today of 2.4-litre V8s and reduced engine output.

BMW P84 F1 engine


At the time, Bernie tried countering this with “Our safety record (up to 2004) is now so good, that we can manage the power perfectly well. I’d like to see overall performance reduced – by that I mean a bit less mechanical grip and a bit less traction. But the power is okay as it is.

“Look it’s simple: everyone’s talking about safe sex these days, so I reckon the drivers should race in condoms.” – I like this man.

And I have faith in him and the manufacturers that come the first practice session in 2014, the cars will go and sound decent enough. Not piercing V10 decent, but nothing for us to lose sleep over.

Turbocharging in F1 was all the rage in the 1980s, chiefly due to the lunatic 1,400-1,500bhp their high boosting engines pumped out in qualifying trim (race trim was more like 800bhp for reliability). Which made moves like THIS remain in the F1 archives forever.

1986 British Grand Prix


But in case you haven’t noticed, my desert island Formula One year(s) will always be the V10-era. Specifically 2004, when the cars were at their fastest, most sophisticated, most powerful; 900+bhp through the range to 19,000rpm, rather than the on-off-switch brief power band delivery of the eighties monster blowers.

McLaren MP4-19 and Ferrari F2004


Just watch this lap of Michael Schumacher in his record-breaking Ferrari F2004 during a lap of Imola. Still looks and sounds every bit as eye-bleedingly fast as it must have felt in that cockpit. I make sure I watch this clip at least once every fortnight, for sanity purposes.

Regarding a respectable power figure for what is the top echelon of motorsport, I think you can’t go wrong with a bare minimum of 850bhp. But I fear what we have now, is a motor racing spectacle that is more GP1 than Formula One.

What are your thoughts...

Renault R24


Find me on Twitter @A4RonSmith

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Hard Shoulder at 11:16 AM October 31, 2012

Pretty sure that sound can be tuned to a certain extent, and the power decrease is largely negated by incremental gains in aero/grip etc. But the thrill of knowing there are 900bhp machines tearing around is THE draw. Sadly these new engines will have the same power as top end road cars so the mystique is gone a bit. Unless of course they allow a set number of qualifying engines for the season with the wick turned right up...

JohnD at 12:36 PM October 18, 2012

Still long for the previous turbo era with 1200+ bhp 4 pots.

Aaron Smith at 8:07 AM October 11, 2012

Thanks for your comments

Cameron Hill at 7:24 AM October 10, 2012

great article mate. never knew why they changed the F1 engine specification as I'm not that big a fan of F1.

ilmostro at 6:01 AM October 10, 2012

The current V8's are flat plane crank, so sound like two inline 4's. The new V6 format should sound better IMO.

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