1 July 2014
Renault confident Austrian F1 gremlins eliminated
Renault is optimistic that it can be more competitive at Silverstone this weekend, after investigating the problems that struck in Auastria last time out.
Seeing three of its cars retire from the Austrian Grand Prix made for a frustrating weekend for Renault, but the French company is more optimistic ahead the next round at Silverstone.
Although two of the three DNFs were not engine-related, and Sebastian Vettel was advised to pit even after regaining the drive he lost in the opening laps, Renault was up against it as Mercedes-powered cars dominated in the mountains. With Red Bull already playing catch-up against the likes of Mercedes, Williams and Force India – and paddock rumours suggesting that it could take over the French marque's programme in a bid to improve its fortunes – Silverstone needs to be a better weekend for the regie.
“It's always a pleasure to visit Silverstone, and particularly poignant to be back there with the turbo engines after Renault debuted the first-ever F1 turbo back in 1977,” the company's head of track operations, Remi Taffin, said in its preview to the British Grand Prix.
“We are going there in a positive frame of mind. It's fair to say that Austria was frustrating and disappointing, but we've looked at every scenario in a very detailed manner and are confident the failures won't happen again. There have been changes on two levels; both technically in terms of software evolution and in terms of procedures to ensure we catch an issue before it becomes a major problem. We go there with a clean sheet of paper.”
Renault's lack of straight-line speed has been cited as the main reason for the performance gap, and Taffin admits that Silverstone will also be a tough challenge for the new V6.
“Silverstone is one of the most interesting circuits from a Power Unit point of view,” he confirmed, “Over the years, it has become known as a power track and this year will be no different with the hybrid units. In fact, the high torque, low downforce cars should produce even quicker speeds than we have seen in previous years.
“Over 60 per cent of the circuit is taken at full throttle - in fact, from Luffield to Stowe, the ICE, turbo and MGU-H will be flat out for a total of almost 40 seconds. After going through Luffield the driver will accelerate down the old pit straight, reaching speeds of well over 310kph before a short lift off for Copse. The time taken from the driver lifting off to being fully back on it again is less than one second, and the challenge for our engineers is to allow the engine to effectively function as a switch, going from 'fully off' to 'fully on' almost instantaneously.
“After Copse, the car will have another ten seconds of wide-open throttle before the high-speed turns of Maggots and Becketts. Enormous pressures will go through the internals here as the driver shifts from side to side at an average of 200kph. Then it's back on the gas for another 15secs down the Hangar Straight. The only other place we will see this long distance of open throttle is Spa, and we'll be looking to the MGU-H to feed the MGU-K throughout this period of acceleration, not only to increase top speed but also to reduce fuel consumption.”
Fuel consumption at Silverstone will be high since the lap is long and quick, but the phenomenon of 'engine overloading' will come to the fore. To create more electrical power, slightly more fuel than necessary is put into the ICE which, running at a higher fuel flow, produces more overall power, which in turn allows the MGU-K and MGU-H to recover more energy to recharge the battery. While it may sound counterproductive to use more fuel to become more efficient, just a small percentage more fuel leads to greater car efficiency through improved driveability, and it is particularly useful at circuits, like Silverstone, where there are few corners and, therefore, limited chances to recover energy.
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