Q+A with Cosworth's technical director

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Nick Hayes, technical director of Cosworth Racing is looking forward to see the R5 racing, powered by the new Cosworth CR-6 engine. The car is an evolution of the R4 and the team aims to evolve along in terms of results.

Can you describe how different the new CR-6 engine is to last year's?

"Well, the CR-6 is a development of last year's engine, so it remains a 90-degree V10, but we have new longer-life requirements in 2004 thanks to the rule that means we can only use one engine over a whole Grand Prix weekend.

"Previously an engine would last for 450-500km but now we expect engines to have to survive for around 800km so we've been doing a lot of work on the CR-6 to extract the best performance but at the right life. A lot of the components in a 2003 engine wouldn't last for much more than a race, let alone a whole weekend, so much of our recent work was seeing how we can extend the lifespan without hurting performance."

Engine builders sometimes change the 'V-angle' of the engine. You are staying at 90-degrees for 2004. Why have you stuck to this?

"A change in the angle between the two banks of cylinders doesn't actually change the power of the engine, but what it does do is help the car designers with things like centre of gravity, packaging of other systems around the engine, weight distribution and so on. We will listen to the requirements of the car design team and then come up with the ideal angle for car. In the past we built 72-degree engines and even experimented with a very wide 120-degree version but for now 90 degrees seems the best compromise."

How do you change an engine to make sure it lasts longer?

"Having a longer-life engine means that you have to look hard at what we call the duty cycle - how long the engine runs at each circuit - and try and optimise all the parts that come under high stresses to make them last just long enough. It's really the same process as we went through with the engines last year, the difference is we were used to building them to last 450km and had plenty of experience at doing just that. Now we have to find nearly twice the life expectancy out of every part - that's a big leap.

"All the bits that you'd expect to be highly stressed in an engine - the crankshaft, pistons, valves, camshafts - need a lot of attention to try and make sure that you get the best performance but also meet the new life requirements."

Will the characteristics of the engine change as a result?

"All of the things that we have worked on in the past - good mid-range power, flexibility and so on - will continue to be just as important. And we are working incredibly hard to increase overall power by improving the airflow into the engine and getting better combustion efficiency. These are the ways you increase horsepower without wasting fuel."

One way to make engines last longer is to make the parts thicker, but that increases the overall weight. Will this year's CR-6 weigh more than last year's version?

"No, you can't make those assumptions. I'm not going to tell you exactly what it does weigh and I'll admit that it probably weighs a little bit more than it would have done if the rules hadn't changed. But F1 technology moves forward so fast you can't use last year's model as a benchmark. We are always trying to save weight, so if you were going to make an assumption, you'd be safer to assume it is lighter still..."

Cutting back on revs is another way you improve engine life. Will you have to cut back for 2004?

"I'm sure that everyone will be running lower revs on average than they would have done without the 'one engine' rule. But it's the same as the weight issue, again. How big a step forward have we made over the winter compared to how many revs do we need to cut back to improve lifespan? The same also applies to the power output. The engines won't be as powerful as they would have been without the new rule, but that doesn't stop us developing as the season goes on. I expect at the start of the season they might be a little less powerful than at the end of last year but we will all quickly catch up."

If you have a large budget, what is to stop you bringing different types of engine to a race, rather than just the one kind?

"Nothing, and I think that might happen. Manufacturers with the best resources could easily bring different specification engines depending on what they expect to happen over a weekend."

You don't have the same budgets as some, what does the future hold for Cosworth Racing?

"We've been through a difficult time recently because the business conditions have changed. The long-life engine rule was a cost-cutting measure, which is good for everyone except the engine builders! But as the reorganisation of the Premier Performance Division continues we will increasingly see the benefits."