n 2014, the F1 sanction restricted fuel consumption of each race vehicle to only 144 liters from start to finish of every race. That’s only 27 gallons. So how the hell could an F1 race car that travels at speeds of nearly 240mph, averaging a 145 miles per race, revving a constant 15,000 revolutions per minute only use 144 liters of fuel?
Let’s face the facts. Technology from F1 has always been the premonition to what happens on the streets. Gone will be the simplistic gas guzzling days of V-8s. We’re now on the edge of a new era with performance hybrid technology. So to get you prepared, here’s a quick lesson on how the hybrid F1 motor works.
But first, you need to start referring to the motor as a power unit, which is combined of two electric motors, a turbo charger or two, an electric recovery system and the most archaic feature — the mechanical V-6 engine.
Yes. A V-6. In fact, since 2014 F1 restricted all power units to cut down to a V-6 combustion engine as a base. But compared to the larger bulky V-8 base, with variable cam timing, and three power adders, the little old vacuum pump can become nearly 70% energy efficient. With the help of a few friends.
Starting with the turbocharger (TC). On an F1 power unit, not only does the TC push air in to the intake and pull exhaust out the engine to create horsepower, but it also drives a shaft drives to the first electric Motor Generator Unit (MGU). Which is simply an electric motor that constantly sends a charge to the Energy Recovery System, (ERS) or in short — the battery. This first MGU is actually called the MGU-H, H standing for heat since it’s powered by the turbocharger.
So what about the second electric motor? Well, it’s driven by the V-6 engine crankshaft and connected to the front of the harmonic balancer, or similar to connecting with a timing chain offset from the engine. This electric motor is called the MGU-K, K meaning kinetic — since every time the V-6 engine decelerates, it sends a charge to the ERS (Engine Recovery System).
So far, we explained how the electric motors are connected to the engine and that they generate power for the ERS. Keep in mind that the V-6 Engine, the Turbo charger, and both electric motors are all spinning the same direction simultaneously, so when it’s time for extra power, the electric motors stop sending a charge, and take a charge.
To boost the V-6 Engine, all of the power they were sending the ERS is now sent back, to assist the V-6 engine and create hundreds of extra horses, all efficiently without using more fuel consumption. Plus, the computer controlling the ERS can regulate which motor is doing what and when, or on fly at the drivers command. Overall, an F1 power unit is a constant give and take of electrical current, and what could be a give and take situation for the future of street performance.