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Renault boss: the current engine formula is vital for us to tell our message

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Renault boss: the current engine formula is vital for us to tell our message
Dec 28, 2014, 12:28 PM

There has been a lot of discussion in F1 recently about levelling the playing field on the hybrid turbo power units (PU), with suggestions from som...

There has been a lot of discussion in F1 recently about levelling the playing field on the hybrid turbo power units (PU), with suggestions from some parties like Red Bull's Christian Horner, that F1 should simplify the technology and others, like Bernie Ecclestone, proposing a return to the old V8 engines to save money.

Cyril Abiteboul

Not long ago, I did a Q&A for another project with Renault Sport boss Cyril Abiteboul, about the importance to Renault of the switch to the hybrid turbo engines and the message about efficiency that sends out. We also touched on the convergence of technology of F1 and Formula E in the future and the question of whether there is a place for hydrogen fuel cells in motorsport.

How important is the drive for fuel efficiency to Renault's continued involvement in F1?

CA: "Sustainable technology is a key factor in Renault’s road car development strategy. We recognize the need to take responsibility for the environment, but also the irreversible need for mobility. We therefore collectively require more from cars, and fuel, or rather energy.

"Efficiency is at the heart of this dilemma. How can we get more from each litre of fuel or joule of energy with as little compromise as possible to the overall experience? In recent years we have seen a move to downsized, turbocharged engines that produce the same power output for lower input, and increased importance for electric or zero emission technology.

"Firstly, the (hybrid turbo) F1 regulations allow us to investigate highly advanced technical solutions that go in that direction and could transfer to the road in the future. Secondly, the fantastic power of the F1 marketing platform allows us to promote these new technologies to speed up their adoption by customers worldwide by demonstrating that energy frugality and very high performance are not mutually exclusive.

"F1 cars are hugely competitive this season despite consuming 35% less fuel. If the regulations had remained the same (V8, high fuel consumption) we would not have been able to deliver any of these relevant messages through the sport.

As a prime mover also in Formula E how do you see the evolution of technology in each series and will there be convergence at some point in the future?

CA: "It’s still very early days for the FE championship, but the series has high ambitions to make a mark on the motorsport fraternity. It is clear that electric technology will become a major technology in the future and, like F1, we stand to learn a lot from its use in a cutting-edge, high pressure racing series.

Formula E

"It is possible that, as the technology advances, we could see an overlap between Formula E and other racing series – not just F1, but also endurance racing – and we are already making sure we create the right synergies between the technical teams supporting the various programs. But for the foreseeable future, I think the series will be very complementary to existing championships. Once it is properly established, it will be interesting to understand to which fan base it appeals and compare it to that of F1 as ultimately Renault must be involved where its customers and where the audience are.

Is there a (long term) future for fuel cells in motorsport? Is it a technology Renault is investing in?

CA: "A fuel cell is a specific technology for generating electricity onboard a vehicle, normally using hydrogen. The technology has been explored for a number of years, with greater or less interest. There is the potential for it to be implemented in motorsport in the distant future, but for now it’s not a path we will tread, at least for the foreseeable future."
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Series Formula 1
Tags innovation