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Technical talks: The Last V8 engines



Ahead of the 2014 shake-up, we(Red Bull) chat to Renault’s Rémi Taffin for some more tech talk.

2014 marks a big departure for F1 with an enormous shake-up based around a new hybrid power unit with a V6 engine. It’s the top technical story in F1, to the point where the existing V8 engines are almost ignored. Now in their eighth and final year, these engines have been frozen to a specification laid down in 2007 – but as Rémi Taffin, Renault’s head of track operations explains, there’s still work to be done.

Remi, everyone’s talking about 2014 but your job is more in the here and now – is work still going on with the V8 engine?
RT: It’s fair to say that a lot of our resources have moved onto the 2014 programme but we also have a job to do this year. We are still running V8s at the factory on the dynamometer for reliability development because we need to be able to react to any problems. We’ll be doing that until we have built the final engines of the year, which we normally do in August. After that, unless we have a problem, everything at the factory will focus on 2014. Meanwhile, at the track the job doesn’t change. It’s a question of fine tuning the engines and looking after them.

What’s left to come from the V8?
RT: I think it’s pretty much static now. The engines we have now will be the same as the final ones we build in a few months’ time. Obviously there’s scope to change that if we have a problem but if the engine is reliable, this is it.

Given the specification has been frozen since 2007, what work can you possibly do?
RT: The performance side hasn’t improved, if you’re talking about pure power. Actually, for the last few years we’ve had less power as the exhausts have developed [into an aerodynamic tool]. What we’ve been focussing on there is trying to limit the power deficit caused by running different exhausts to what you would run purely for the benefit of the engine.

On the other side, we’ve always been allowed to work on reliability. While the technical regulations have been frozen, the sporting regulations regarding engines have changed a lot. We now have fewer engines available for the season, and those engines each have to do maybe triple the mileage they did in 2007 – so most of our development has been focussed on trying to extend the mileage.

So, how different is a Renault RS27 engine to the specification that was ‘frozen’ in 2007?
RT: The majority of parts have changed through the years, certainly. I’d say 75 or 80 per cent of the parts are now different to the ones that were used originally.

Next year’s power units are more complicated – will that mean more Renault staff at the track?
RT: We probably will have more people – but not many more. We have seven people from Renault for each team now. I think at the start of next season we might have two or three more but by the end of 2014 probably only one more – and that purely because there will be more work to do with the Energy Recovery System, not because the engines will be more difficult to work with.

And we definitely are having the new engines? There’s all sorts of rumours flying around about retaining the V8s for another year or maybe having some sort of equivalency formula…
RT: Everyone will be racing with a V6: that’s where the regulation is leading us; that’s what we’re working on. I can’t see anything else happening.

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