NOVEMBER 19, 2001
A new Renault engine?
Our sources say that Renault is continuing to research the idea of such an engine but that there is still a very long way to go before it makes any real sense. The theory of the camshaft-less engine is a great idea but there are one or two myths floating around as to the benefits of such a system. The lowering of the center of gravity of the engine is at best minimal because solenoids are heavy things and with 10 of them needed to make the engine work the weight is not only close to that of camshafts but is also high up in the engine. The advantage therefore in any practical sense is therefore meaningless although the possibilities offered by theoretically infinitely-variable valve timing are probably worth looking at.
However, valves must open and close at an amazing rate and in order for solenoids to achieve this kind of speed they have to very light. Even with the most advanced materials available at the moment there is not yet one which will activate the valves with sufficient speed and precision to allow the engine to run at the kind of revs needed to compete with the best engines in F1 at the moment.
Other manufacturers have looked at the idea very closely and have rejected it out of hand and are assuming that Renault is using the stories to disguise the fact that it is looking at other areas of development.