Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner and other F1 team bosses believe the communication regarding the efficiency of the current hybrid power unit is not up to the mark and should be better handled.
The move to the V6 Turbo hybrid power unit in 2014 F1 season was received with a mixed response as the opinion was divided, especially with the finances required to built a highly complex engine but the call was taken still keeping in mind the automotive industry.
In addition, it was argued that fans didn’t want to understand technology but see a spectacle on track at high speed and the noise that the F1 cars’ can produce – the latter which of course trimmed down a bit when V6 came in.
However, for manufacturers’, while they are concerned with the finances always but they also admire the piece of art they have managed to create which is not just less polluting, it still achieves better results in terms of efficiency.
Amid the disparity between the performances of various manufacturers in play in F1, the team bosses feel that the communication of what they wanted to achieve with the new hybrid power unit seems lost which should be handled well.
“I think, actually, the efficiency of these engines is so understated,” said Red Bull’s Horner. “The fuel economy that these engines are achieving is mind-boggling so actually what F1 is managing to do, in terms of furthering this technology, is truly impressive and I think it’s a message we need to get across more.
“We’ve all come to Melbourne on aeroplanes – or most of us – from across the world and been burning fuel at 38,000 feet which is obviously a far bigger carbon footprint than anything that happened in the race weekend.
“But I think in terms of the messaging that F1 is achieving, I think it should be actually praised. The technology that the manufacturers have brought in through these engines and the economy that’s now being achieved is quite phenomenal.”
One of the manufacturers’ in play, who has done the best job so far with the power unit, Mercedes’ Toto Wolff concurred with Horner and cited the example of waterways like his rival and colleague did about aeroplanes in his analogy.
“I think it’s more the macro picture than the micro picture for us,” he said. “My teenage children are on the street today, walking out of school and I find it really strong that this young generation wants to actively take care of what the future is and there is this overwhelming problem burning fuel in the airplanes.
“I’ve read, most recently, that the 15 largest container ships burn or have as much emission as 760 million cars and the plastic that ends up in the seas is a phenomenon that we can even see in Europe every summer.
I’ think these things need to be tackled and when we look into our micro-cosmos, those engines have all the energy recovery that you can find in the most modern road cars. We have battery technology, we have energy recovery through various systems.
“They have become more and more efficient and they are very much at the forefront of technology that eventually ends up in road cars and each of us has the duty, be it in our little small world, of not using plastic bottles any more or looking after our own environment.
“And in the same way as the guys being involved in F1, making sure the right message is transported into the world, that these engines are the most efficient and the most green engines that have ever existed.”
Another manufacturer, Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul talked about keeping F1 as the game-changer for technology as it is known as pinnacle for a reason – which is not just about racing cars but also infusing technology and still be able to deliver the best results.
“It will be up to the new generation to demonstrate whether or not it’s still relevant to race in cars and go around in circles around the world but more than that it’s important that F1 remains at the edge of what technology has to offer and also those engines are just fantastic,” he said.
“The average efficiency of an internal combustion engine is in the region of 30 per cent to 35 per cent. We are above fifty per cent in F1; that’s massive. If this type of efficiency was affordable for all mass markets products that would be a massive contribution to CO2 emission.
“So that’s something we need to keep at the edge of in future. We are talking about e-Fuel, fuel that will not be composed of fossil energy. This type will be a game-changer, I think. We need to make sure that F1 remains a demonstration for game-changers.”
The third big player, Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto, also agreed with his colleagues as he felt that the turbo technology is hugely relevant to the automotive industry, who is contemplating the switch to electric.
“We need to communicate [our technology advancement] better,” he said. “What is good is when you see that such technology will be transferred into the automotive industry.
“And certainly our turbo technology at the moment is of interest to the entire automotive industry, so that again F1 is showing on the edge of technology and in this case really pushing the message so it’s down to us really to explain it and make sure it’s happening.”