How long until hypercars are faster than F1 cars?

Renault-Sport-F1-V8-engine

In the run-up to the first grand prix of the 2013 season, Renault Sport F1 has shared some interesting facts about their 2.4-litre V8 engine, which will see its final tour of duty in 2013.

Taking over in 2014 is a brand new electrified 1.6-litre V6 Turbo powerplant, which will be considerably more energy efficient than the V8 and more closely reflect the development path of road car engines.

Renault currently supply engines to four teams; Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Williams F1, Lotus F1 Team and Caterham F1 Team, who’ve benefited from Renault’s technical know-how since the engine designs in F1 were frozen in 2007.

Since then:

  • The rev limit was reduced from 19,000rpm to 18,000rpm and a limit of 8 engines per driver per season introduced.
  • Engines can now run for up to 2,500km without any significant power drop off, whereas in the past engine life was just over 350km. Therefore engines are now running more than seven times the distance of ten years ago.

If the engine designs had not been frozen:

  • The rev limit would have reached around 22,000 rpm by now.
  • This would equate to a further 75 horsepower (ie +10%), equivalent to a lap time gain of around 1.5 sec at Monza.

Even so, the V8 F1 engine is under tremendous levels of stress:

  • The main stress points are pistons, connecting rods and bearings which the power travels through.
  • Pistons weigh only 250g, but when the engine revs to 18,000 rpm (300 revs per second) the acceleration exerts a force of 2 tonnes on the piston and conrod. That’s more than 8,000 times the force of gravity.
  • The exhausts of the RS27 will reach up to 1,000°C. That’s just over mid-way between the boiling point of volcanic lava (700°C and 1,200°C).

Despite the incredible reliability and endurance of modern F1 engines, Renault say their power has remained fairly consistent over the years at something over 750bhp (note the vagueness). But their performance is still savagely quick:

  • 0 to 60kph (37.5mph) can be done in 1.6 seconds.
  • 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.5 seconds. (LaFerrari less than 3 seconds)
  • 0 to 200 km/h (124 mph) in 5.1 seconds. (LaFerrari less than 7 seconds)
  • 0 to 300 km/h (186 mph) in 12.0 seconds. (LaFerrari around 15 seconds)

For 2014, the 1.6-litre V6 Turbo engines are due to produce just 600bhp, rev to 15,000 rpm but have up to 160bhp additional power available from two electric motors – available for up to 30 seconds per lap, compared to just 6 seconds for today’s V8 engines.

Which raises the question – have high performance road cars ever been so close to the performance of F1 cars? We don’t think so.

So, how long before Ferrari boasts that its new hypercar is ‘faster than an F1 car?’