There is a preoccupation with peak
power figures for racing engines, but
their true performance comes from
more varied parameters, such as power
curves, fuel economy and reliability.
Having said that, power is fascinating,
so let’s take a look at what a current
Formula 1 car might be kicking out...
True power figures from F1 engine
manufacturers are rarer than hen’s teeth –
and accurate data from the media is rarer
still. We know each F1 engine will have the
mandated maximum160hp from the ERS,
and when applied, that figure effectively
steps up the power curve for the power
unit all the way from zero to max rpm.
Back in 2014, when the current power
units were first introduced, a total figure of
750hp seemed optimistic with so little fuel
available. Now, the teams openly admit to
more power from the current units than
from the high-revving, fuel-hungry V8s or
V10s of yore. So, including the 160hp ERS
contribution, a figure of 900hp-plus seems
realistic – meaning a 1.6-liter, turbo engine is
pushing out a mind-blowing750hp-plus.
In competitive order, it appears that
the Mercedes remains top of the power
list, with Ferrari close behind, and
Renault and Honda further back. Recent
technical director discussions suggested
the power unit’s contribution to the
spread of average lap times was around
0.3sec, which equates to just 30hp
between the most- and least-powerful
units, which is remarkably close. Within
that spread, expect the Mercedes to be
well above 900hp and Honda just below.
Delving deeper, if you could compare
F1’s current turbo-hybrid power units are knocking on the door of 1,000hp, but with driver-friendly delivery.
The superseded 2.4-liter
V8s made 800hp-plus at
18,000rpm, but with a
narrow, peaky power band.
The new turbo-hybrids have
low-down power and a
much wider usable power
band, thanks to ERS and
Estimates put all four of
the current F1 power units
within a 30hp spread on
maximum power unit
reliability to boot.
power curves from the old 2.4-liter V8 to
the current 1.6-liter V6, the V8 would be
peaky, the power output only climbing at
high revs, with dips along the way as the
engine passes through inefficient ranges in
its tuning. The current turbo-hybrid V6s will
have a curve that jumps up immediately,
aided by the torque of the electric motors
and smoothed by the turbo. This gives the
driver a wider rpm range to operate in,
with the electric motor on the turbo also
helping to reduce turbo lag.