The BMW Formula
One engine for the 2005 season is not called P85, as one might expect, but
comes with the model designation P84/5. “The name”, says BMW Motorsport
Director, Mario Theissen, “reflects the fact that the engine draws on the
concept of the previous year’s P84 unit but in a configuration that is in
keeping with the modified requirements.”
These requirements include a further doubling of the engine’s running
distance, the powerplant now has to last for 1,500 kilometres. That
signifies a quadrupling of the distance covered in comparison with 2002. In
2003, for the first time, the same engine used in qualifying had to be used
in the race as well. 2004 saw the introduction of the one-weekend engine
rule. In 2005, engines cannot be replaced until they have covered a distance
of two Grand Prix weekends.
Between Friday and Sunday, the engines have to tackle extremely diverse
disciplines. During the free practice sessions, which are used for set-up
work and tyre selection, the teams will now increasingly focus on sparing
the engines. Theissen: “That can be achieved in two different ways: driving
fewer laps or reducing engine speed. We don’t want to drive less because
that would cost us valuable set-up time, particularly as we want to cut down
on the test drives. Curtailing the maximum engine speed is the preferred
option. You don’t need peak revs for set-up work and tyre selection.” In
future, the same set of tyres will have to be used both for qualifying and
for the race.
By contrast, the first qualifying session, held as a flying lap between
13.00 and 14.00 hrs on Saturday, presents challenges of a very different
kind. The time recorded in this single lap determines the starting order for
the second timed lap (Sunday 10.00 to 11.00 hrs). Saturday’s fastest driver
is the last to go out onto the track on Sunday morning.
But a good lap time on Saturday is already half the battle towards securing
a good place on the grid because from that point on, the lap times of both
flying laps are added up to determine the grid order. And there is a further
that plays an important role for final qualifying: by then the cars must
have the fuel on board with which they will embark on the Grand Prix race.
Qualifying sprints and Grand Prix distances with a single engine. As Heinz
Paschen, Director of Formula One Engine Development in Munich, explains:
“For the engines, the new regulations mean extreme and diverse demands. They
have to last the considerable duration of two Grand Prix weekends, that’s
around 1,500 kilometres, and cope with qualifying sprints in between.”
Developing such a flexible car is an immense technical challenge.
Paschen: “To cope with the radically increased demands for stability, in
principle all mechanical and thermal components subjected to major loads had
to be designed to be twice as robust as before. Normally that means an
increase in engine size and weight, which in turn demands a sacrifice in
engine speed and thus performance. In order to minimise these losses”,
Paschen continues, “painstaking precision work is necessary all the way down
the line. That starts with the design of components, is closely linked to
materials research and selection, and affects production as well as testing
and quality control.”
The engineers led by Heinz Paschen work in close alliance with the
specialists from BMW’s Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ). The 2005 engine
called for a relatively rapid response as it wasn’t until July 2004 that it
was announced that the racing engine would have to be used over two
consecutive Grand Prix weekends in 2005. “This late and incisive change to
the specifications”, says Paschen, “led to a major supplementary development
effort. By the time this regulation was made known, the engine originally
planned had already reached the testing stage.”
That BMW P85 unit had to be shelved. The new project brief ran thus:
on-going development based on the 2004 engine. It gave rise to the BMW
P84/5. Since then, its state of design has changed by the week. Starting
test drives in November 2004, the team has been on the road with the latest
version of the BMW P84/5 at any given time. Theissen: “Our aim is to achieve
endurance for the doubled service life while minimising as far as possible
any sacrifice in performance. The BMW engine is to be the benchmark for
Formula One in 2005 as well.” The fact that the impact on the size and
weight of the P84/5 has remained minimal is largely thanks to the materials
specialists at the Research and Innovation Centre, who have developed new
surface treatment processes for enhanced endurance.
The dress rehearsal, a long-distance run on the dynamic test rig, still
takes place on the Monza circuit profile because of all the Grand Prix
tracks it has the highest full-throttle percentage, although qualification
for use has been raised to 1,500 kilometres.
yesterday and tomorrow:
cited limit of what is technically possible does not exist”, says Theissen.
“The boundary line is pushed further out with every innovation.” It’s
something that is graphically demonstrated by the maximum engine speeds
of BMW’s F1 units. The P82, the engine used by the BMW WilliamsF1 Team in
2002, had hit a peak speed of 19,050 revolutions a minute in its final
evolutionary stage. In 2003 the new rules stipulated that there were to be
no more engine changes between qualifying and the race. With the flying lap
on Saturday, the engine’s distance requirement including the race rose to
around 400 kilometres and featured a complex load profile. It’s a bit like
sending a marathon runner on a sprint just before the start of the
Notwithstanding these challenging specifications, BMW managed to achieve
increases in engine speed and performance. At the season’s final in Japan,
the BMW P83 managed an impressive 19,200 rpm and cleared the 900 bhp mark,
while also proving a model of reliability. The only engine fault in the 2003
season was suffered at the Austrian Grand Prix and was the result of a leak
in the cooling system.
rule followed in 2004, signifying a doubling of the running distance. Out of
36 race starts, there was a single engine fault traceable to a faulty
component. By the start of the European part of the season at Imola, BMW was
again in a position to deliver a peak speed of a good 19,000 rpm over
the entire race distance – “And in seventh gear”, as Theissen emphasises,
“i.e. the highest gear and the one most in use, after practically ripping
through the lower gears.”
For 2005, Theissen expects a general reduction in revs. “Endurance clearly
has priority. Once that goal has been achieved, we will turn to increasing
engine speed and performance once again.”
Synergies between F1 and production car development:
“The Formula One
project is a vast technology laboratory for BMW”, says Theissen. “For our
company, the creation of synergy effects between F1 and volume production
was a key prerequisite for our return to Formula One.”
And so it was clear from the start that the BMW power units for motor
racing’s leading class would be developed and produced in Munich. The FIZ
a key role in this. The F1 factory was built less than a kilometre away from
the think tank and interconnected with it. “The FIZ represents the future of
BMW”, states Theissen. “Here the most capable engineers work in
state-of-the-art research and development facilities. The FIZ has vast
resources available from which we benefit directly. Conversely, due to the
extreme technical demands and the necessary pace of development, the F1
involvement represents a unique testing ground for our engineers.”
BMW has made the vision of a seamless process chain a reality under
its own roof – from concept to construction, casting, component production,
assembly and testing all the way to deployment on the race track. That
eliminates the need for transportation routes and the attendant quality
risks, and the expertise acquired within the company can flow directly into
the development of series production cars.
Casting technique and manufacture:
quality of the engine block, cylinder head and transmission
plays a crucial role in determining the performance and endurance of the
power units. Advanced casting techniques, coupled with high-precision
process management, make for lightweight components with a high degree of
stiffness. To ensure that production models benefit from this, BMW has its
own foundry in Landshut.
In 2001, a dedicated F1 casting facility was added to it. “Both
departments”, explains Theissen, “are jointly managed. That guarantees a
permanent exchange.” The same sand-casting procedure as used for the Formula
One V10 is applied to casting oil sumps for M models, the intake manifold
for the eight-cylinder diesel engine and the prototypes for future
generations of engines.
Virtually at the same time as the F1 foundry went on stream, an F1 parts
manufacturing facility based on the same template was added to it. This is
where the team make the camshafts and crankshafts for Formula One, among
In the meantime, WilliamsF1 has also been benefiting from the two
departments. The F1 aluminium gearbox casing is made in Landshut using a
sand-casting process, while other transmission parts come from the BMW F1
factory. Gear wheels are produced at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in parallel with
Electronics for Grand Prix races and the road:
placed on the engine management system controlling
a power unit that achieves up to 19,000 rpm, yet also has to be driveable at
low speeds, are immense. Ignition timing and fuel supply have to be
perfectly harmonised every millisecond in order to achieve optimal
efficiency – maximum performance with minimal fuel consumption. Low
consumption means better lap times as well as greater flexibility in the
race strategy. Besides the engine control unit, on-board electronics are
also responsible for monitoring all functions.
With the backing of the electronics experts at the FIZ, BMW has also had the
confidence from the start to develop the F1 engine management system
in-house rather than depending on racing specialists. Engineers who normally
deal with the electronics for the M models also created the engine
management system for the F1 engines. The expertise they glean from this
filters back into series production.
cars such as the 7 Series and the M series have long featured two new types
of microprocessor which BMW first used and tested in Formula One. For
internet access and the navigation system of the BMW 7 Series range,
moreover, storage technology was used which had first proved itself in F1.
“In the area of monitoring functions too”, Theissen adds, “we are learning
on behalf of road-going vehicles. Early warning systems and automated
electronic interventions are important for safety on that front as well and
can safeguard against damage.”
In the BMW M3, M5 and M6, a further gearbox innovation from Formula One has
proved itself: the “Sequential M Gearbox – SMG with DRIVELOGIC”.
The SMG drive concept delivers F1 transmission technology for everyday use.
Gear changes are electrically induced via paddles behind the steering wheel.
As in Formula One, an electro-hydraulic system replaces the mechanical
clutch and shift process, and SMG users can similarly keep their foot on the
accelerator while changing gear.
Materials development and model construction:
As light as
possible and as robust as necessary – the mantra of engine design reaches
its highest plane in Formula One. Placing too much emphasis on safety means
putting on weight. The materials research section of the FIZ delivers
crucial initiatives for BMW’s F1 engine development, with aviation and
aerospace technology frequently serving as a basis. Some highly promising
developments which today cannot be considered for volume production on
grounds of cost have already found their application in the BMW F1 engine.
This opportunity to apply new technologies helps the engineers to continue
developing them to production stage for series models.
Progress and problem solving to the relentless rhythms of Formula One are
only possible with short reaction times. The number of design modifications
to the Formula One engine is on a par with the entire range of production
engines. New design, new tools, new components – that’s the sequence.
In order to shorten the time involved, the BMW F1 team can turn to the Rapid
Prototyping/Tooling Technology department at the FIZ. As soon as the
necessary parts have been designed using a CAD-CAM system, computer-guided
machines use laser beams or three-dimensional pressure engineering to create
scale models made of resin, plastic powder, starch or wax.
That enables installation situations and interactions to be simulated
without delay so that any necessary modifications can be carried out before
the final manufacturing process is set in train.
Power circuits and karting tracks.
The circuit profile of each GP course places different demands on the
engines. The long straights of Monza and Indianapolis or the inclines at
Spa demand maximum power. From a Formula One viewpoint, Monaco and the
Hungaroring are more akin to karting tracks. Here driveability is called
for and cooling air is at a premium. In Bahrain, fine-mesh air filters
protect the engine from desert sand.