Today’s Formula 1 cars are powered by naturally aspirated 2.4-liter V-8 engines, supplemented by a Kinetic Energy Recovery System. Despite their relatively small displacement, the engines still manage to produce in excess of 750 horsepower, at mind-boggling engine speeds of up to 18,000 RPM. Unlike production motors, which must last for hundreds of thousands of miles, F1 engines are designed for maximum performance first, with durability somewhat of an afterthought. Teams can use up to eight engines during the course of a season without being penalized in points or starting position, and in 2011 that translates to one engine for 2.375 races.
Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, has just approved a change in engine formula for the 2014 season. New engines will be 1.6 liters in displacement, equipped with turbochargers and energy recovery systems. No limit has been set on engine speed at this time, but I’m guessing “in excess of 18,000 RPM” is likely. Look for further clarification from the FIA in the coming weeks, but the new engine formula replaces a proposed four-cylinder design that was to take effect in 2013.