Eli5: How can f1 1.6L engine produce high power and reach high speeds ?
The 1.6L engine is just the ICE part and it produces about 700-750 hp – there are two additional electric motors that add to the power output. The ICE part is incredibly sophisticated and three main things distinguish f1 engines from “everyday” ICEs:
* Fuel/air mixture is incredibly precise, allowing a more complete burn of the fuel, which produces more power
* Ignition takes place in a pre-ignition chamber rather than the cylinders themselves and a “flame jet” is produced that enters the combustion chamber, adding to the more complete burn (and greater power)
* The tolerances are incredibly precise, allowing the engines to rev to 15,000 rpm (they’re capped at this rate) – numbers like that would tear apart most (likely all) mass produced ICEs – more RPM = more power output (all else being equal)
The two electric motors add about 300 hp combined when needed (at the driver’s discretion). One motor harvests ICE heat and coverts it to energy to be stored (in a battery) or deployed, and the other harvests kinetic energy from braking.
They rotate much faster, so each cylinder is firing more frequently, They also have a turbocharger so more fuel and air gets burned each time the cylinder fires.
This isn’t free, what you give up is durability and fuel efficiency, these cars go through multiple engines per year.
One of the things that lets them rev higher is the cylinders are wider and shorter, so the piston doesn’t have to move as far or as fast, and there’s more area for valves.
In the modern era:
1) The cars are assisted by an electric motor that recovers energy from the exhaust and when braking. The electric motor puts out 160HP in addition to the engine.
2) The engines are turbocharged. So the 1.6 L is a bit misleading. If they run at +2bar boost, it is (ELI5) equivalent to 3x the engine capacity ie like a 4.8L engine. (It isn’t clear what boost they use but most estimates are in that kind of range) A normal car engine, even turbocharged will rarely run more than +1 bar boost since this puts a lot of strain on the engine block.
3) The engines are tuned to run at very high RPM at least 75-100% more than a normal car engine (usually the average car max RPM is 6K to 7K at max whereas an F1 engine is optimized to run at 10-15K RPM). This means the engines don’t last as long BUT it means it can burn a lot of fuel per second and therefore develop a lot of power.