Once thought of as the fastest race cars around, the Formula One race cars have undergone massive changes over the years. Much of those changes have to do with safety. The safety of the race teams on pit road as well as the safety of the driver have come into discussion over the years and led to many changes which slowed the cars down along with taking away a very dangerous activity, mid race refueling, in order to keep the team member safer and cut down on the number of opportunities for fires to start and get out of control.
Currently the engines used are much smaller than ones of the past. In the past engines were built with a V10 powering the cars while the ones used today are V6 engines. Staying in line with current trends, and having the ability to produce even better horsepower with these engines, the current engines are specifically 1.6-liter V6 hybrid models which produce 600 horsepower from the engine alone, but an additional 160 horsepower comes from the electric Energy Recovery System to give these cars a combined 760 horsepower. As a fan of the fastest racecars every, this might not seem like much, but considering how light the cars are, these speed demons can really fly around the track.
What was proposed by Ferrari was having the engines benefit form twin-turbochargers, however this proposal was rejected by Honda and Mercedes. What has been approved is the increase in fuel flow in the current engines. This increase would boost the overall output of the engines and bring them much closer to being able to produce as much as 1,000 horsepower. The consideration and hesitation with the overall approval of this change is the need would be present to either allow mid race refueling or have larger fuel tanks installed on the cars.
To go along with this proposal to allow the increase in horsepower, Red Bull and McLaren both suggested a radical redesign of the shape of the cars, but a more evolved approach was actually approved. The cars will remain with the same basic chassis but have adjustments made to make them more attractive and produce greater downforce. To add to this equation, wider tires will be added to give a stronger grip while driving at top speeds. By adding these added features these cars will be able to reach much higher speeds than the current versions which already are closing in on the lap records set during the V10 years.
The next phase of these changes is have the technical teams figure out how to properly and safely implement these differences in order to have them function on the race cars. If the details are figured out soon enough, the Formula One race cars seen next season will look and perform much differently than the ones currently racing around the tracks all over the world.
As a fan of Formula One racing my hope is they find a way to continue to protect the safety of the pit teams and the driver by not having a need for mid race refueling take place. Otherwise, these changes are all exciting and make me look forward to the next great season of racing with anticipation. Not many things are better in the automotive world than seeing the cars that are built for the fastest speeds screaming around the tracks and with these changes in place, these smaller engine cars could soon show up the older larger engine ones with faster times for all of us to marvel and be amazed by due to the heightened technology that is available for these high-powered beasts of the racetrack.