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IRL to go turbo, F1 to follow? UPDATE #4 We hear there is a good chance that the next generation Honda 2-seat S2000 roadster will get a turbo 4-cylinder engine - more evidence that Honda will agree to a turbo 4-cylinder configuration.  They tried to tell AutoRacing1.com that a normally aspirated engine was better when they made the switch to the IRL from the turbo CART series and now will eat their words and adopt a turbo not only in the IRL but also in F1.  Recall this article we published in 2003 - Why turbo engines are superior.  How many years did the IRL and F1 waste going backwards?

08/29/08 Two of Formula 1's major manufacturers are believed to be keen to see a return of turbo power to the top flight in the near future – whilst drivers suggest the sport's new regulations will promote far greater overtaking from as early as next season.

Earlier this year, FIA President Max Mosley gave teams an ultimatum to come up with new ways to cut costs, improve energy efficiency and create a better spectacle in F1 – or else have the rules imposed upon them.

Amongst the discussions, there have been moves for a radical change on the engine front, with calls for the introduction of smaller, 1.5-litre turbocharged powerplants to replace the current, 2.4-litre normally-aspirated V8s from 2012.

According to the largest Austrian daily newspaper, Kronen Zeitung, both BMW and Renault are keen on this idea as a way to end Ferrari's present monopoly. Despite the Scuderia's ongoing reliability problems – with Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen having suffered a failure apiece in the last two grands prix – Ferrari-powered drivers filled the top five spots through the speed traps in Valencia last weekend, in the shape of Sébastien Bourdais (313km/h), Raikkonen (313km/h), Sebastian Vettel (313km/h), Massa (312km/h) and Adrian Sutil (311km/h). Crash.net

08/29/08 While change is certain, the upcoming meeting will focus on deciding which formula to use exactly. Erik Berkman, president of Honda Performance Development, said the debate "is over four (cylinders) or six."

It is still unclear what the specific configuration will be, but considering "one concerns a twin-turbo", we estimate the choice will be between a twin-turbo 4 cylinder or a turbocharged 6 cylinder engine.

08/27/08 (GMM)  In the current trackside discussions about possible new rules for the future, some teams are pushing for a radical change on the engine front.

According to the largest Austrian daily, Kronen Zeitung, Renault and also BMW are fully behind the push for small turbo-charged engines for the 2012 season and beyond.

The newspaper said those teams have proposed a 1.5 liter capacity for the turbos, with 1.5 bar boost.

Ferrari's current reliability problems aside, it is no surprise the Italian marque's rivals are pushing for the end to the current 2.4 liter normally-aspirated V8 era.

One key speed trap at the Valencia circuit last weekend captured Sebastien Bourdais (313kmh), Kimi Raikkonen (313), Sebastian Vettel (313), Felipe Massa (312) and Adrian Sutil (311) monopolizing the top five positions in terms of sheer top-end grunt.

All of the aforementioned drivers use Ferrari engines.

08/26/08 The Indy Racing League is set to switch away from normally-aspirated engines in 2011, and intends to adopt rules with small displacement turbo engines.

IndyCar officials told the Indianapolis Star that they will write rules for such power units, although it is not yet clear how big these engines will be.

Such a move will be popular with the automobile manufacturers as they work with four conflicting demands: customers want good performance, fuel efficiency, low emissions and value for money. A year ago researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed a new engine configuration that can match the performance of the modern hybrids, at a fraction of the development cost. This was achieved by using small turbocharged engines fitted with direct fuel injection, using an ethanol-gasoline mixture. With direct injection into each cylinder fuel economy improves dramatically, while the turbochargers use wasted energy from the exhaust gases to produce more power. The smaller engines not only lower emissions, but also improve fuel consumption because they reduce the weight of the cars and thus the amount of fuel needed to move them.

There are a number of manufacturers in Europe who are keen to add models with these kind of engines, in order to reduce the fleet average CO2 emission by 2012, when new European Union rules are adopted. The IRL says that there are several automobile companies interested in getting involved with the new engines, in addition to the current supplier Honda.

There is little doubt that some of the engine manufacturers in F1 want to move in the same direction and there are going to be a lot of talks about engines in the months ahead as the FIA and the F1 teams try to find the right long term solution. Frozen engines achieve little for the manufacturers in terms of development or publicity and the small capacity turbocharged engines would create a new challenge, better perceptions about the sport and perhaps better racing.

Formula 1 gave up turbocharging back in the late 1980s, by which point there were 1.5-litre turbos producing around 1500hp in qualifying trim.

The decision was made to improve safety and to cut costs, which had escalated because of research into advanced electronics and fuel.

Modern scrutineering techniques can easily control both electronics and fuel and thus costs can be contained to some extent.

The key point, however, is that if the sport can be useful to the industry both for publicity and technology, the car manufacturers are going to be much more willing to spend the kind of money that F1 eats up. Grandprix.com

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