Green push to lead to electric pit-lane power
23 July 2011
F1's desire to be seen as more environmentally friendly has resulted in the FIA mandating that cars will have to rely entirely on electric power for momentum in the pit-lane from next season.
Two years ahead of the move to 'greener' 1.6-litre turbo engines in 2014, teams will now have to run without ignition and/or fuel once in the confines of the pit-lane, with an increase in Energy Recovery System capacity to 120 kW to allow for the extra demands. Harvesting of energy from exhaust gases will also be permitted, while will now have to carry onboard ignition systems to allow the driver to start the engine once out of the pits.
The decision, while already incorporated into a revised version of next year's technical regulations as FIA president Jean Todt pushes to make F1 'greener', has yet to be widely accepted by the teams, although they are open to suggestions that help make the sport more environmentally-friendly.
"I think that this is something that we have started discussing, [but] there are different opinions on that," Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali confirmed, "As you know, there are some manufacturers that are keen to go ahead with this project [although[ some others fear that, not from a technical point of view, just from a show point of view, it is something that we need to make sure that the sport is happy for.
"This is a topic that, in my view, because of the situation that is for 2014, it can still be discussed, we have the time to discuss it in a proper way. There are different opinions on this subject because, on one side, there is the technical aspect and, on the other side, there is the sport and the passion. You may say that, in the pit-lane, with no noise, it would be difficult for the people to perceive the passion that F1 is all about. On the other side, you may say that F1 has to be the pinnacle of motorsport in terms of new developments and research, and so this goes in the opposite direction. I think this is something that we will discuss."
Among the concerns surrounding the change is the possibility that, with silent running, there is more danger of an accident occurring in pit-lane.
"This is possible because, on the main straight, you could have cars that are normally running with the engine on, so this is a factor that is under consideration," Domenicali admitted, "This is one of the points that [new FOTA technical chief] James [Allison] is mentioning. It's an element of consideration, for sure."
Allison, current technical director at Renault as well as taking up the role as head of FOTA's Technical Regulations Working Group last week, confirmed that there were details to be worked through before universal approval of the technology would be forthcoming.
"Stefano's summed it up fairly neatly," he conceded, "There are technical hurdles to be cleared in order to make it happen, but nothing that's impossible, just things that make the configuration of the car change relative to what we've got today. It is a complication from a design point of view, but it's not an impossibility.
"From what I understand, the idea has been trailed in various groups and it largely receives a positive reaction as a useful initiative, but there are pros and cons with it from an operational point of view that we're still discussing."