Malaysian Grand Prix: Renault preview Sepang weekend

Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday 3 March 2012.

Renault Sport F1 preview the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend, Round 2 of the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship, at Sepang International Circuit:

Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations:

Sepang is one of the circuits whose technical requirements will change under the new regulations. In the V8 era the circuit sat towards the middle of the table for the challenge it posed for engines but now it will be one of the toughest races of the year.

Of the six main components of the PU, the internal combustion engine will be under the most pressure in Malaysia. The humidity in Sepang made it a little bit easier on normally aspirated engines since power comes down as the water content in the air increases. This means we were generally able to offset the impact of the two long straights. This year we won’t have this luxury. With a turbo engine the air intake is controlled at all times regardless of ambient conditions so those long straights will really start to hurt. As a result Sepang will become a lot less forgiving as twice a lap the PUs will be flat out, with the turbo revving at close to 100,000rpm for over 10 secs.

The straights, which are over 1 km each, will however provide plenty of opportunity for the MGU-H to be recharged. The tight corners such as the T15 hairpin, the first corner complex and the mid to low speed corners in the third sector will allow the MGU-K to recover energy under braking. With relatively high fuel consumption due to the short bursts of acceleration between turns, getting maximum energy from these opportunities will be incredibly important.

The weather conditions will still play a role in engine management strategies. The high air temperatures could be a concern as we have to choose the correct cooling level, while the high chance of rain could make the cars difficult to control due to the increased torque and lack of grip. The focus will therefore be on good driveability and controlling the charged air temperature.

After a difficult race in Australia we are really looking forward to Malaysia. We had several issues across the cars in Melbourne but we have recreated the problems in the dyno at Viry. Most are fixed and the remaining will be under control by Friday in Sepang. While we anticipate further issues may occur we are much more able to react quickly to minimize their impact.

News from Total:

Each Power Unit must be used for five GPs this year so reliability is paramount. To meet the requirements of Renault Sport F1 and its partner teams and ensure the status of each PU, Total runs a diagnosis of the oil quality each race. This is done through a spectrometer to detect the amount of metals present in the samples. The results can be used to detect potential issues:

  • Too much iron means combustion problems or wear.
  • Too much chrome: wear segmentation.
  • Too much copper or lead: piston bearings in poor condition.

These analyses allow engineers to take preventive or corrective measures to ‘save’ the engine before a major problem occurs.

Renault Energy F1-2014 Fast Facts:

  • On account of the turbocharger the pressures within the combustion chamber are enormous – almost twice as much as the V8. The crankshaft and pistons will be subject to massive stresses and the pressure within the combustion chamber may rise to 200 bar, or over 200 times ambient pressure.
  • Even though the ICE is powered by direct fuel injection, the option still remains to cut cylinders.
  • The battery has a minimum weight of 20 kg to power a motor that produces 120 kW. Each 1 kg feeds 6 kw (a huge power to weight ratio), which will produce large electromagnetic forces.
  • The presence of an intercooler (absent in the normally aspirated V8 engines), coupled with the increase in power from the energy recovery systems makes for a complicated integration process since the total surface area of the cooling system and radiators has significantly increased over 2013.

Subbed by AJN.