Claudio Lombardi, an institution in the field of racing engine design. The engineer was active in the Ferrari engine department in Formula 1 in the first half of the 1990s, helping to fill several technical gaps present at the time in Maranello. Thirty years later, Formula 1 faces the debate that accompanies the drafting of the new regulations for the 2026 Power Units, an issue on which Lombardi himself expressed himself, joined by FormulaPassion.it.
One of the recurring wishes in the confrontation between enthusiasts is the removal of the fuel flow limit, suggesting its replacement with the imposition of a maximum quantity of fuel that can be used throughout the entire race. Currently, the regulation provides for a fuel flow rate directly proportional to the engine speed, up to a maximum of 100 kg / h over 10500 rpm. According to Lombardi, however, the flow meter would constitute the basis for the most suitable regulation for Formula 1, forcing engineers to optimize the fuel granted and fifth to improve combustion efficiency, with technological repercussions on the market: “One stance that I’ve always taken since the 1970s when I started getting interested in these things is that the best regulation is the one based on the flow meter. You give a certain amount of fuel and those who are better at it get more power, because they have an engine that performs more. This leads to a major impact on series production. I can do some numbers. The latest generation of naturally aspirated Formula 1 engines had a thermal efficiency that did not exceed 32-33%. With turbo engines based on this flow meter regulation, therefore with the limitation of the instantaneous fuel flow, together with the thermal recovery of the MGU-H, it has gone considerably over 40%, approaching 50%“
“All this has shown that the heat engine can have yields that were not thought possible”, continues the engineer. “It was the first time that there has been a real spill of knowledge on the production of series engines from the competition, which is the right thing. Investing in competition doesn’t have to be an end in itself. It makes sense for the manufacturer to invest if he has a technical impact. This was a big step forward. […] If we go back 15-20 years, the performance was important, but not as it is now. What did Formula 1 demonstrate in those years? That an aspirated engine could go beyond 300 horsepower per liter. This is another remarkable knowledge derived from the world of competition ”. Lombardi then provided a concrete example of solutions transposed from the latest turbo-hybrid power units to series production: “These F1 engines have led to the development of a lot of new ideas for production engines based on performance results. An example that concerns me is this. With the Italtecnica company of Turin, together with the calculation and simulation contribution of the Politecnico di Milano, we have developed a patent that provides for a particular combustion pre-chamber, a system that on paper could be applied to series engines “.
Claudio Lombardi believes that the guidelines of the 2026 power units constitute “step back”, as the removal of the MGU-H, which allows the recovery of electrical energy starting from the residual energy in the exhaust gases, has an impact on the overall efficiency of the hybrid engine. In fact, the Formula 1 technical group is now grappling with the challenge of supplying the energy needed to power the nearly 500 electric horsepower declared as a goal: “On the next technical regulation I I am of the opinion that the MGU-H should not be removed, if anything, give the manufacturer more freedom. If the team can afford a staff of a thousand people for two cars that race, or more in the case of the twin teams, don’t tell me that the expense is that of engine research. If anything I would have been of the idea to give more freedom to what is the current technical regulation, without upsetting everything. For example, teams could be allowed to mount free turbos, like two instead of one. This would have led to some breakthroughs in terms of technical knowledge. Therefore I am totally against this market-based approachbecause this is what it is about, it has nothing to do with technique “, Lombardi closes.
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