Underneath the body of the car and sitting behind the driver is the heart of a Formula 1 car, the engine. With about 1000 moving parts the Formula 1 engine is the most complex part of the whole car. One of the interesting aspect about engine is that it weighs less than 100 kg, and it can generate over 900 horsepower and revs exceeding 19,000rpm, which is half the weight of the engine of a standard family car, eight times the power output and 3 times the maximum revs.
It is also considered to be one of the most fuel efficient ones available in terms of the output it produces. The engine of a Formula One car is considered to be the most advanced engine in the world. Formula 1 engine are mainly made from forged aluminium alloy, because of the weight advantages it gives in comparison to steel. Each engine is hand made and takes up over 80 hours. Currently all the Formula 1 cars use V-type engines. These engines became popular in F1 because of the low point of gravity, and the average production costs and it is sufficiently stiff enough to withstand the car’s G-forces in cornering conditions.
These days Formula 1 engines are designed to run for two race weekends before being overhauled. In addition, the engine uses specially formulated oil that is almost as thin as water to help reduce resistance. The efficiency of the oil allows the engine to run at a cooler temperature, which increases the aerodynamic efficiency of the whole car.
Picture of Ferrari F1 engine.
Few facts about Formula 1 engines
Ø Number of combustions in a GP: 8 million
Ø Number of engine & vehicle measurements/second at top speed: 150,000
Ø Maximum rpm: 19,000+
Ø Number of individual parts: 5,000 approx
Ø Number of different parts: 1,000 approx
Ø Maximum exhaust temperature (in a race): 800 Celsius
Ø Number of litres of air aspirated in 1 second at top speed: 450
Ø F1 engines built in a year: 200
Ø Weight in kg: <100
Ø Engine assembly hours: 80
Ø Hours checking a new cylinder head with computer tomography: 20
There are many regulations/limitations imposed by FIA concerning an engine, which are as follows:
1. Engine capacity must not exceed 3000 cc.
2. An engine must consist of 10 cylinders and the normal section of each cylinder must be circular.
3. Engines may have no more than 5 valves per cylinder.
4. Supercharging is forbidden.
5. The use of any device, other than the 3 litre, four stroke engine to power the car, is not permitted
6. Variable geometric length exhaust systems are forbidden.
7. The basic structure of the crankshaft and camshafts must be made from steel or cast iron.
8. Pistons, cylinder heads and cylinder blocks may not be composite structures which use carbon or aramid fibre reinforcing materials.
9. Engines cannot be made using non-ferro materials (this is to limit costs).
10. Each driver would use one engine for the entire race weekend (i.e. fitted fresh for Friday) and that use of a further engine would result in losing ten places on the grid.