Formula 1 plays a big role in the development of next-generation automotive technologies, but are F1 cars more energy efficient than electric vehicles?
You wouldn’t think that a car built to go as fast as possible would be the most efficient car in the world. But, believe it or not, Mercedes 2016 W07 Hybrid Formula 1 race car model was in fact more energy efficient than the average electric vehicle on the road.
According to a report in 2016, the thermal efficiency of Mercedes’ class-leading hybrid Formula 1 engine was over 45 per cent.
Laurence Edmonson, a Formula 1 editor at ESPN, argues that a Formula 1 car is greener, since in the U.S., “at least 66 per cent of electricity comes from coal- and oil-fired energy stations, with just 13 per cent coming from renewables.”
Coal and oil power stations have a thermal efficiency of roughly 33 per cent, meaning the power used to drive an electric car is likely coming from a less efficient source compared to a Formula 1 engine.
Former Mercedes technical director, Paddy Lowe, says: “Electric cars are seen as green and the solution to all carbon emissions, but they are absolutely not.”
“It all depends where you get the electricity from and in a typical country with a regular profile of electricity generation, a Formula One car is massively more efficient than any electric car being charged from a power plant which is burning hydrocarbons. It is incredible that we’ve done that, but nobody is really talking about it that much.”
He added: “And while we have already achieved 45 per cent, we are not even stopping and so we will probably in two or three years’ time achieve 50 per cent efficiency. When you bear in mind that road cars have been stuck around 30 per cent for the last 50 years that is just mind blowing.”
Although this is hardly a direct comparison, the key fact here is that F1 cars can help push the development of energy-efficient technologies – influencing the production of new vehicles.
Mercedes new WO8
With the Spanish Grand Prix just around the corner, the three leading F1 teams Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull are all bringing big upgrades for the first European race of the season in Barcelona.
Andy Cowell, the head of the Mercedes engine division says that they have put a lot of effort into improving the cooling system in the new W08 to make sure the most efficient package possible.
“One of the consequences of having an extra 5kg of fuel and an extra 10 per cent used per lap is that the waste energy – the engine is very efficient but not 100 per cent efficient, so there is some waste energy – how do you get rid of that waste energy?”
“We have put a lot of effort into the cooling system on the engine to get that waste energy out of the piston, out of the cylinder head, out of the crankcase and out of all the bearings, transmit that to the car and the cooling packages on the car need to increase as well.”
The Spanish Grand Prix will reveal the different upgrades of the F1 cars, and if Mercedes energy efficient engine will pay off for them.
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Image source: formula1.com