FRIDAY FOCUS -- WEEKEND NUMBER TWO FOR THE 2005 ENGINES Formula One enters unknown territory this weekend, as most teams begin the second Grand Prix of the new two-weekend engine rules. How are the engine-builders managing the...
FRIDAY FOCUS -- WEEKEND NUMBER TWO FOR THE 2005 ENGINES
Formula One enters unknown territory this weekend, as most teams begin the second Grand Prix of the new two-weekend engine rules. How are the engine-builders managing the challenge?
"There is no intrinsic reason to be more worried about the second weekend of the engine's life than the first," explained Head of Engine Operations Denis Chevrier. "When producing an engine for a life of 1400km, we design parts that will perform to their maximum over this life-span -- and only enter a "dangerous" phase of reliability after this has been completed. The second weekend should not be a step into the unknown, but rather a normal phase of the engine's life."
Indeed, the Renault drivers experienced very different races in Melbourne -- Giancarlo was untroubled, while Fernando attacked throughout. Does this mean the potential of their engines is now different?
"Our data analyses and visual inspections have not suggested that the engines suffered unduly in Australia. Neither driver used the engine more severely than the other," continues Denis. "While Giancarlo had a relatively trouble-free race, Fernando's drive was much more attacking, but he managed everything very intelligently. No undue stress was placed on the engine."
There has been much talk about saving engine potential at the start of the season: what does it mean?
"Quite simply, whenever possible -- during practice, and at points in the race -- we impose less strain on the engine, by limiting the revs at which the drivers change gear," explains Denis. "This means loadings on the moving parts are lower, and that wear rates are less -- thus economising the engine's potential total performance. But of course, this is something the driver is in total control of -- we rely on them to manage the engine's operation in the correct fashion, and it is another new skill for them to master."
Finally, with long straights and high temperatures, Sepang might seem like an "engine-breaker" but is this really the case?
"In actual fact, no," concludes Denis. "The demands placed on the engine are less severe than in Albert Park. Firstly, although the straights are long, they are by no means unusually so, and the circuit layout means the drivers spend a low percentage of the lap at full throttle. Secondly, the heat and humidity mean the engine intrinsically develops less power -- the combustion process carries less energy. This also reduces loadings on the engine compared to the cooler, denser climate of Melbourne."