Renault reveals new V6 power unit, and an audio clip

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Eyes have now seen, and ears have now heard, the new Renault 1.6L V6 powerplant that will be coming to Formula One in 2014.

The French manufacturer unveiled its new power unit on Friday, dubbed the “Energy F1.” That is one of the goals of the new engine formula: trying to maximize efficiency and output, according to Renault Sport F1 president Jean-Michel Jalinier.

“From next year, one of greatest challenges in F1 will be to maximise energy efficiency and fuel economy while maintaining the power output and performance expected of F1 cars,” he said in Renault’s official release.

“Renault has pioneered this technology in its road car engine range with the Energy series. Naming the power unit Energy F1 creates an unbroken range, from the Clio through to our competition department.”

The visuals are explained in further detail by my NBC colleague Keith Collantine on the F1 Fanatic site here,  but they weren’t the only thing presented on Friday. Renault also released a 13-second audio clip on its website of what the new V6 engine will sound like.

Renault’s deputy managing technical director Rob White said the exhaust dominates the sound on the new engine, and that comparing it to the current V8 is a bit like comparing great bands.

‘‘The sound of the engine is the sum of three principal components, exhaust, intake and mechanical noise,” he said in that release. “On fired engines, exhaust noise dominates, but the other two sources are not trivial and would be loud if the exhaust noise was suppressed and contribute to the perceived sound of the engines in the car.

“I am sure some people will be nostalgic for the sound of engines from previous eras, including the preceding V8, but the sound of the new generation Power Units is just different. It’s like asking whether you like Motorhead or AC/DC. Ultimately it is a matter of personal taste. Both in concert are still pretty loud,” he added.

At first hearing, the new V6 engines are seriously similar to IndyCar’s new 2.2L V6 turbocharged formula that was implemented ahead of the 2012 season.

At the moment, Renault is confirmed with Red Bull and Toro Rosso for 2014. It also supplies Lotus, Williams and Caterham in 2013, but Williams has already announced a switch to Mercedes next year.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.