Features - Technical
SEPTEMBER 1, 1994
The new engine formula for 1995
BY JOE SAWARD
If you talk to the engine builders in the Formula 1 paddock most will tell you that the new 3-litre regulations will not make a huge difference when they are introduced next year. After the accident at Imola the FIA demanded that Formula 1 horsepower levels be reduced to around 600 horsepower next year and proposed a fuel-flow valve to achieve this. None of the engine men wanted such restrictions and, after a meeting at Ferrari's headquarters in Maranello, Italy, they agreed unanimously to come up with the idea of a return to a 3-litre formula, just as Formula 1 had between 1966 to 1985.
The FIA accepted the proposal and the new rules will come in for next year. The current horsepower levels are around 780-800 horsepower and engineers expect that this will be reduced to around 650-700 horsepower by the time the 1995 season gets underway.
The switch from 3.5-litre to 3-litre engines is therefore only a check on the ever-increasing graph of Formula 1 power levels and not a revolutionary change.
Most engineers agree that the change will have no effect at all on the individual design philosophies of the companies involved. They expect that the architecture of the current engines will remain unchanged, in fact most engine-builders look like starting next year with the same engine blocks as they use this season, sleeved down to 3-litre capacity.
They are, however, unable to agree on whether the change will give an advantage to a particular engine.
"I think we'll all be in about the same places," says John Judd of Yamaha. "We'll stay with the V10. I don't think the change will alter the way anyone thinks about engines. If at the moment you think a 3.5-litre V10 is the best thing you will still make the same decision at 3-litre. We will make new internal bits. Some people will make new engines."
But Renault is planning to built a completely new engine:"The change in capacity brought about by the new regulations means we will have to design and build a new engine," says Renault boss Louis Schweitzer. "That's not a short-term investment."
Mario Illien , who builds Mercedes-Benz's engines agrees: "The 3-litre formula won't be any cheaper because we will be making everything smaller," he says. At the same time he concedes that most Formula 1 engine-builders can remember back to the old 3-litre rules in the 1970s so they already have experience.
But what about F1 newcomers like Peugeot.
"The rules allow the different engine builders to keep the same base for their engines," says Peugeot Sport boss jean-Pierre Jabouille, "and to follow the same philosophy. I think that Ford will stay with a V8; Peugeot will stay with a V10 and I'm sure Ferrari will stay with the V12.
It seems, therefore, that everyone agrees that the 3-litre formula is a good way of reducing F1 horsepower without turning the whole sport on its head.