F1's biofuel properties will open new power battle

Formula 1's switch to biofuels with its new generation of cars looks set to trigger a surprise development battleground thanks to a change it brings in engine cooling characteristics.

F1's biofuel properties will open new power battle

As part of F1's push for sustainability, new rules – which were originally coming in 2021 but have now been delayed – will require teams to run their engines with a 10% blend of advanced sustainable ethanol.

Work has already begun among F1's fuel suppliers to optimise the potential of the biofuel, and Ferrari's technical partner Shell has revealed a fascinating characteristic of the new product.

It believes that a cooling characteristic of ethanol could open up some interesting development directions for F1 that could prove decisive in the battle for glory.

Shell's F1 development manager Benoit Poulet told Motorsport.com: "The interesting aspect of the car performance is similar to when you put a [ethanol based] cooling gel on your fingers – you can feel the cooling effect that you get. It will be the same for the engine.

"It will be able to cool some parts of the power unit and that could be quite beneficial. We are working hard on it.

"The properties are certainly quite interesting for combustion, and I think we can do some interesting things. We have definitely found at the moment that this cooling effect is good for the engine."

Ethanol delivers the cooling benefit because it has nearly three times the heat of vaporisation as regular fuel – which means there is a cooling effect for the incoming charge during the combustion cycle. A cooler intake charge means that engine power will increase.

Engine manufacturers could chase this straight horsepower gain, or could opt to change the overall design and cooling characteristics to run the engine at a different temperature. This could then have a knock-on effect for the car's aerodynamics.

Benoit said that Shell has been working on the new biofuel ever since the regulations came out last year.

"It's a big challenge but we are really happy to switch to E10 fuel – and to be honest we would be happy to have even more than 10%," he said.

"We have people working on the project, and people who are familiar with E10. And it's a big change because ethanol comes with some different properties to the other hydrocarbons.

"Because of that, we really decided to start early. It's a bit like the chassis people; we started as soon as the regulation was published. On project management, I allocated one person full time on that question and now we have got a good understanding in terms of the benefit of E10."

The use of more biofuel in F1 was originally set for 2021, but a recent move to delay the new regulations because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic means the requirement could be moved back until 2022.

shares
comments
Canadian GP boss "optimistic but realistic" about race

Previous article

Canadian GP boss "optimistic but realistic" about race

Next article

Ricciardo admits Monaco GP cancellation "hurt"

Ricciardo admits Monaco GP cancellation "hurt"
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
The AlphaTauri improvements that mean Gasly’s form is no fluke Prime

The AlphaTauri improvements that mean Gasly’s form is no fluke

Pierre Gasly has driven superbly since demotion from Red Bull in 2019, but the team formerly known as Toro Rosso has come on strong too – building a car that can often challenge Ferrari and McLaren. Here Gasly reveals to ALEX KALINAUCKAS how AlphaTauri has given him the tools needed to rebuild his reputation

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Prime

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to Stuart Codling, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion.

Formula 1
May 15, 2021
How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021