F1 cars are losing power as they attempt to go greener.
In a recent interview with Motorsport.com, a former Honda F1 powertrain engineer revealed it would be challenging to get the same power from the 2022 engine due to new fuel regulations. Yasuaki Asagi did not say how much the power loss is, but F1 is the kind of sport where even a 5% loss is significant.
The new fuel, known as E10, is one of the many new regulations introduced this year. E10 is a 90:10 blend of fossil fuel and sustainable ethanol. By 2026, all teams have to run on fully sustainable fuel, but before then, the change will be gradual.
F1 manufacturers are already working hard on the next-generation powertrain, which will inevitably lure more manufacturers to the sport in the latter half of this decade. The introduction of biofuel may seem strange, but many manufacturers believe it's the key to retaining internal combustion engines. Bentley is one of these manufacturers, and it used a Flying Spur Hybrid to prove how well it works.
Asagi, who is still working closely with Red Bull as it moves its powertrain department in-house, is the first powertrain boss to acknowledge the challenges. "It seems other companies say it's about the same but, on the contrary, making such an announcement means it's difficult to get the same power as last year," said Asagi.
The problem relates to the new blend. In short, ethanol makes the fuel heavier. It also doesn't have the same latent power, which means a full tank on the new car will be marginally heavier, but the fuel will be less potent.
And with the current engine rules set in 2021, the teams can't make significant changes to compensate.
"On the other hand, the abnormal combustion of the old fuel will be easier to control now. We are aiming for maximum efficiency, but with E10 fuel the power of the engine will also decrease, and the amount of power generation will also decrease," said Asagi.
Red Bull is coming into the new year with a considerable advantage. Not only will the returning champ be behind the wheel of a Red Bull, but all the components used in the car are now built in the same factory.
If the powertrain department wants to chat with the chassis team, they can simply meet up at the watercooler in the hallway.
We don't have to wait long to see the effects of the new fuel. The various new cars will debut over the next three weeks, followed by the annual pre-season testing in Barcelona from 23-25 February.