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Keeping cool the challenge for 2014

17 August 2013

Caterham technical director Mark Smith says the issue of cooling is set to be the biggest challenge teams will face when new engine rules come into play for the 2014 F1 season.

Next year will see teams switch to 1.6-litre turbo-charged units featuring an Energy Recovery System, which will replace the V8 engines already in place.

That change in engines is set to provide teams with a number of challenges when it comes to the design of their new cars with Smith insisting that the change was 'far reaching' when it comes to the work that is now going into the 2014-spec cars.

“Fundamentally, the power unit is significantly different,” he told the official F1 website. “It's not as if we've gone from a 3.0-litre V8 to a 3.2-litre V8 - it's a significantly different lump of architecture in terms of the physical size of the internal combustion engine and it also has a relatively big turbocharger assembly associated with it.

“The exhaust configuration - as a result of the turbo installation - is also a big departure from what we currently have. The way in which the turbo installation impacts upon the transmission is significant. We've had many changes of engine configurations since the previous turbo era (which ended at the end of 1988), but this is one that impacts in so many ways.

“At Caterham we buy our gearboxes from Red Bull, but it impacts upon their design and that in turn impacts on installation of clutch assemblies and suspension. It's quite far reaching.

“But bigger than all of that is the cooling challenge. That's probably the thing that, I imagine, has most people up and down the pit lane scratching their heads. It's reasonably easy to come up with a solution that will cool, but to come up with a solution that will cool and give you the optimum aerodynamic performance is the challenge.

“The charged air cooler, for cooling the air from the turbo before it goes into the engine, will, on all of the installations, be quite significant. Physically, the size of the thing will dictate the packaging of everybody's cooling systems. That's the biggest single thing, I think, that's presented itself as a challenge in terms of the overall car architecture.”

Toro Rosso's James Key agreed that cooling would be an issue for teams to deal with next year, but insisted there were other challenges that would need to be faced.

“There are other challenges too: the weight limit is higher than now, but it's tight,” he said. “It sounds a bit trivial but it's not at all; it's a big challenge - there is a lot of stuff on the car.

“I think the installation of the power unit and the rest of the bits that go with it provide another challenge. You've also got to select eight gear ratios that will do the job at all of the circuits - that's pretty tricky when you've got a different power unit and different aerodynamics. How do you predict that accurately? You've got to go through and make sure that you understand if there are any sensitivities that you need to look out for.

“The final big challenge is getting the car to work as one coherent unit - not as separate systems. What's been most noticeable to me is that the interdependency between the different parts of the car is far greater on the 2014 car than today. The way you lay something out, or the way you install something, or the way something operates has a bigger knock-on effect on other areas than is the case now.

“Take for example the engine installation: there's an aerodynamic implication, there's a gearbox design implication, there's a chassis implication - everything is much more interrelated than we're used to.”


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