Is DDH (Formula One Engine Design Trends, Motor Sport, January 1989) being over-simplistic when he writes that “The traditional way of making an engine run faster is to make one with more small cylinders” resulting in “greater total piston area” within an acceptable “4350 rpm”?
Laurence Pomeroy (whom DDH also quotes) was one of the main advocates of the BRM V16 engine on the grounds of piston area, and we all know what happened to that. What no-one, including Pom, realised at that time was that it is ultimately not so much piston speed as piston acceleration which is the limiting factor— correct me if I am wrong.
Moreover, if the new Ferrari is to have a powerband of only 1500 rpm, will not the drivers spend more time changing gear than driving the motor car? And it is well-known that every gearchange wastes a second.
The 35B Bugatti developed derisory power compared with some of its rivals, but it beat them because of its enormous torque over the whole range. May we not be getting back to the point where torque is more important than bhp? With a 1500 rpm powerband it is going to be fearfully difficult to be always in the right gear, not to mention the problems of running out of revs and having to change gear in the middle of a corner. An engine with more torque, even if fewer ultimate bhp, will surely have the advantage in more situations than not?
Cecil Clutton, Ramsey, Isle of Man.
The Ferrari is equipped with an extremely rapid electronic gearchange, controlled by fingertip levers behind the steering wheel. It is reported to change as fast as a motorcycle ‘box. GC.