The engines may be getting smaller in Formula One this season, but Renault Sport F1 deputy managing director Rob White predicts that the cars will remain as quick as they have been.
This year, F1 teams will have to contend with 1.6-liter, turbocharged V-6 engines, or “power units,” after running 2.4-liter, normally aspirated motors for the last eight seasons.
Obviously, that’s a major change and there is some belief that lap times could go up with the new engines. But in a Q&A, White says that the speed will be retained through all of the new technical regulations that are debuting in 2014.
“What was an academic question in the beginning has become a lot more real from every point of view, but we have no need to worry,” White said. “Obviously, we are still in the virtual world and not on track but we have measured PU performance on the test bed and have matched the most optimistic predictions.
“We believe that the Power Unit will deliver a lot of power and will be more than enough to make cars quick. The way that the cars will deliver this performance will be somewhat different this year due to the PU and aero regulations. The driving experience will be quite different, but we will absolutely see real speed out on track.”
However, White still expects that there will be plenty of “unpredictable outcomes” in the new season, which will also see new energy-recovery systems on the cars and a fuel limit per driver of 100 kilograms in each race.
According to White, that means a noticeable change is coming in how teams manage a race.
“…The way in which the races are managed by the teams is one of the big differences between 2013 and 2014,” he said. “It is fair to say there are several different ways to skin a cat and this will produce different scenarios as we explore different possibilities about how to manage energy and power.
“Although the tool kit that we have is different, the fundamentals of the races remain very similar. Ultimately, it is for the drivers to go for the opportunities presented to them.”
White’s Renault group will be one of three entities to produce V-6 power units this season alongside Mercedes and Ferrari. Renault is set to supply engines for World Champions Red Bull, Lotus, Toro Rosso, and Caterham.