The grid has been all a-bluster with talk of the coming engine changes for 2013 for months now, but today, it's official: the 18,000 rpm, 2.4-liter V-8 is now on its deathbed in Formula 1, its 12,000 rpm 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo replacement announced today for the 2013 season. The goal: a "greener" series, cutting fuel consumption by 35 percent.
Of course, a 35 percent improvement in F1 engines equates to about 1 mpg, but that's a significant amount of emissions and fuel across 24-26 cars and about 20 races, practice days, and qualifying sessions.
The new engines will be limited to a maximum of 12,000 rpms--still a rather high figure for an engine with two-thirds the displacement but only half the cylinder count of the outgoing V-8s. In addition to turbocharging (which isn't specificaly mentioned in the release, but is expected), the engines will feature high-pressure direct fuel injection at up to 500 bar, or 7,252 psi. Gasoline is still the requisite fuel.
Energy recovery systems and "additional energy management" will also play a role, meaning KERS is due to come back, though likely in a heavily revised and evolved form by the time the 2013 season arrives.
For those afraid to see turbos and four-cylinders in F1, look back to the early 1980s when manufacturers like BMW managed to extract 900+ horsepower from 1.5-liter turbo fours on 55 psi of boost with a redline around 11,500 rpm--very close to the specs of the 2013 engines, but with another 20 years of technology to draw on. Even better: some of those engines were turned up to 80 psi of boost or more for qualifying, generating as much as 1,300 horsepower. From a 1.5-liter four-banger. In the 1980s. Yeah.