Whilst construction of its chassis already underway at Enstone, Renault F1's engine technicians are not exactly having a quiet time of it over at Viry-Chatillon in France.

The production of an F1 engine passes through three primary steps in order to ensure a powerful, reliable unit, with various 'dyno' stages to be completed.

Driven by electrical motors, the first dyno allows the team to test the accessories on the new engine, such as the different pumps. As soon as the major components of the new engine are ready, this equipment is used to check that particular zones of the powerplant are functioning correctly.

"For example, we test an engine block fitted solely with the cylinder heads in order to test the distribution," explains St?phane Rodriguez, head of dyno testing. "In this configuration, the engine is not fired up, as the electrical dyno permits us to check certain technical solutions, or do short endurance runs. The tests are designed to ensure that everything is working correctly, and are therefore not particularly severe."

Once the first engine has been built, it is 'christened' on the thermal dyno. This step comes about four weeks after its electrical counterpart, according to the arrival of the primary components and the adjustments that need to be made during installation. The engine will then roar into life for the first time.

"It is a pretty special moment," Rodriguez continues, "although the first aim is to ensure the engine starts! Then, we check and measure dozens of parameters connected with the lubrication systems and temperatures. We also draw the first power curves."

The first fire-up is, above all, to reassure the engineers. At the beginning, the test is relatively undemanding, so the RS24 is thus analysed in its tiniest details for an entire day.

"Then, the engine begins its development programme," Rodriguez explains, "From this moment, our programme is split into two - the thermal benches will chase absolute performance, testing engines with modified cylinder heads, or valves for example. We test specific components and the performance of the engine according to a number of precise parameters."

Amongst this bewildering range of tests, only the parts which bring a significant performance gain are retained. From this point onwards, the two - soon to be three -dynamic dynos at Viry-Ch?tillon are running all day.

The versions of the RS24 which have demonstrated an acceptable level of performance then make their way to the torture chamber - the full dynamic dyno. Viry-Ch?tillon possesses two dynos, the first allowing the gearbox and engine to be run together - the full dynamic dyno- while the second is a more traditional configuration with just the engine.

"At this point, our aim is to check the engine's reliability," Rodriguez says, "We steadily increase the load on the engine in order to give it a thorough workout."

The most demanding circuit on the calendar is produced in its smallest details using the telemetry from the previous season, as the V10 must complete 700km at qualifying speed.

"The process then becomes a continual exchange between the thermal dynos, which propose performance gains, and the dynamic dynos, which check their reliability. It is a difficult balance to find- in developing the engine, we are constantly treading the fine line between performance and reliability," Rodriguez concludes.

 

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