F1 – Power Unit 2026: A historic challenge for manufacturers

organizational revolution in F1 In terms of power units set for 2026, it is a major challenge for builders of future power units. At a very high level of abstraction, the main novelty is the removal of the component MGU-H.

Installed on the turbine shaft and compressor impellers, theMGU-H It is used as an alternator by converting part of the excess kinetic energy of the turbine into electrical energy, thereby reducing the rotational speed of the impeller itself (otherwise it is controlled by a valve dissipation);

It is used by the engine thanks to the advanced electronics present in the existing power units to control the rotation of the turbocharger assembly. In this way the turbo hysteresis phenomenon that plagued the old turbo engines used in the 1980s is managed.

The layout of MGU-K and MGU-H in the architecture of existing power units

One of the goals they share F1And the FIA Team e is the stability of the performance of future engines compared to those that will equip single seats until 2025. Un targeting The challenger that will force all manufacturers to redesignMGU-K From which half of the total power of the motors must be obtained. In numerical terms, the bike’s useful electric power will go from the current 120 kW to 350 kW, which equates to about 476 hp..

F1. dynamic electric power management

The nominal 350 kW that the MGU-K can provide will only be possible at speeds below 300 km / h. After this limit, the maximum electrical power will be subject to a decrease of 5 kW for every additional km/h, up to the constant value of 150 kW from 340 km/h.

F1
MGU-K Electrical Power Delivery Diagram in 2026 PUs

In circuits where the speed of 300 km / h is easily exceeded in different parts of the track, a phenomenon appears Shot It can be very obvious.

Tripling the power requirement of the MGU-K will not be an issue in circuits where there are many throttle points with a high dissipation value. Conversely, on tracks with medium and high speed curves, the energy recovery system may not meet the maximum power requirements during acceleration.

F1 hybrid management algorithms, the new frontier to maximize performance

If the next generation engines operate in full compliance with the new regulatory framework, the overall efficiency of the power unit will be affected by improper use of both thermal and hybrid parts. It is possible that maximum performance can be obtained through the use of advanced software algorithms.

F1
The Mercedes power unit that prepares W13s for the 2022 championship

These algorithms will make extensive use of the specialty “Operations Research”, which deals with the development and application of scientific methods for implementing programs intended for more efficient management of a real system. It is likely that the teams will have to sip the maximum 350 kW that the MGU-K provides, through a program that will be closely linked to the circuit geometry.

The urgent need to determine the best compromise in the power supply coming from the endothermic component and the electrical component, will not make it possible to exceed the total power of the existing power units, totaling more than 1000 horsepower. Moreover, as stated by Andy Coyle, former head of Mercedes’ high-performance engines division, the MGU-H also contributes to existing power units with 5% of thermal efficiency.

F1. Increasing demand for electricity requires more generous batteries by weight

The need to store more energy requires heavier batteries. Managing 350 kW in a roll that takes 80 seconds equals approximately 7.7 kWh, or 50 kg of weight in keeping with the current technological level of Formula E. current batteries power unit You must respect a minimum of 20 kg.

F1
Summary of the main problems of next-generation power units

The new energy units will not be a simple evolution of the existing ones, with electricity restored three times over. The engines that will equip the single seats starting in 2026 will be completely different engines, as Program management for electrical and thermal power distribution will be a limiting factor.

F1. The specter of performance reduction fuels the search for new aerodynamic solutions

The critical issues described above may reduce the performance of the motors. The fear is so realistic that FIA Formula 1 is studying aerodynamic and structural solutions capable of reducing fuel consumption and aerodynamic drag.

The goal is to equalize the performance of existing engines with more efficient aerodynamic concepts. If the weight savings from discarding the MGU-H is negligible (at least 4 kg, nda), the greater power requirements of the electrical part will result in a significant weight gain in the MGU-K and its energy store..

The extra weight in single seats would be really outdated given that the current generation of single seats is the heaviest in modern Formula 1 (798 kg, nd). As often happens on the top flight, the engineers’ genius and the long time they have will allow them to reach their pre-set performance goals, even though the challenge is really tough.


Author and graphics: Roberto CesserTweet embed

picture: F1And the Mercedes AMG