The Renault F1 Team took the covers off its 2010 challenger, the R30, today in front of assembled media at the Valencia circuit in Spain. Rob White, Deputy Managing Director (Engine), explains how the preparations for the new season have been going and what challenges lay ahead in 2010.
Rob, how have preparations for the new season been going in Viry? "Like always, the period between the end of one season and the beginning of the next is one of intense activity at the factory. Our goal is to arrive at the first race knowing that we have taken full advantage of the available time and resources to maximise the performance potential of the car. As a consequence there is some uncertainty in the early weeks of the year and as we speak today we are not yet raceready, but we are on course to be ready for the first race in Bahrain."
What, if anything, is different about the 2010 engine? "As we all know, the engine is homologated which means its specification is fixed, other than if the FIA authorise changes. This engine ‘freeze’ means we must seek permission from the FIA for any modifications and disclose full details of the changes to the FIA. The principal changes for 2010 are: countermeasures for reliability problems, minor changes for installation reasons, including the suppression of KERS, supplier requirements, and cost-containment measures.
"In addition, the engine must be validated for use in 2010: we have the same quota of eight engines per driver for 19 races instead of 17, so on average the engines must do more mileage. Also, the cars will be quicker in 2010 compared with 2009, so the duty cycle on the engine will be increased. Finally, refuelling is eliminated so we seek to be able to run lean to reduce fuel consumption for longer during the race."
What challenges does the refuelling ban present to the engine team? "Firstly, with no refuelling, fuel consumption becomes a more significant performance differentiator during the race as the fuel in the car is carried for the entire race rather than being divided between pit stops. However, the performance effect of fuel consumption diminishes during the race as the fuel is used because the car obviously becomes lighter. On average the benefit of carrying 5% less fuel over the race distance will equate to a lap time gain equivalent to having 1% more power. So in 2010 fuel saving is an important development challenge in Formula One, just as it is for our road car colleagues.
"Second, managing the fuel in the car is a challenge. The car will be fuelled for the whole race so there will be no more ‘splash-and-dash’ pitstops at the end of the race. The challenge will be to get the car to the finish without running out of fuel, and without carrying excess fuel as contingency for measurement errors or systems malfunction, which would be a performance penalty. There are therefore development tasks to assure the accuracy of the on-board measurement and procedural tasks in the race team to extract the most performance from the car.
"A final factor in managing the fuel is its temperature: the fuel will be on-board for the entire race, and will get warm as it takes on heat from its surroundings. This is an additional challenge for our colleagues at Total and a further factor to optimise for the reliability and subsequently for the performance of the car."
Renault’s engines have a reputation for being fuel efficient – that should be a big advantage this
season… "It’s true that in 2009 we had a fuel consumption advantage over our competitors. Low fuel consumption is a performance advantage during the race and we hope to continue to be strong in 2010. However, it’s worth noting that this advantage will not apply to qualifying in 2010, as the grid will be decided with the cars running with low fuel."
Has the removal of KERS had any consequences on engine design? "The removal of KERS has reversed a certain number of changes introduced for 2009. The power takeoff has been removed from the front cover and the gear drive from the crank to the KERS has been removed. In addition, some details of the wiring and cooling systems are different."
The grid was so competitive last year. Can we expect more of the same this year? "The season will be intensely competitive, I am certain. The grid has changed a lot since 2009, and everyone within and around Formula One, myself included, is impatient to see how it will shake out. In addition to the new teams on the grid, in the world of engines we welcome the return of Cosworth. I would dearly like to see Renault solidly in the leading group, but it’s going to be busy at the front!"Source Renault