We're currently in the Formula 1 off-season, but there's still plenty of time for news and rumblings to emerge. The latest involves Volkswagen again, who is supposedly reconsidering a venture into the glamorous world of F1 after the new 2013 engine rules were brought to light.
Last we heard, Volkswagen Group big boss Ferdinand Piëch himself had dropped the axe on any potential F1 involvement. But with four-cylinder engines on the near horizon, ESPN F1 is reporting former F1 driver and current VW Motorsport representative Hans Joachim Stuck has expressed renewed interest to a number of German outlets.
"The conditions for a possible entrance of the Volkswagen group have been created," Stuck said to Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
The key word there is "possible." As BMW, Honda, and Toyota have proved over the last decade, manufacturer involvement doesn't automatically lead to success. Mercedes GP director Norbert Haug said the new rules will help reduce engine budgets by "at least a quarter," quite the positive when F1 team budgets run in the millions and millions of dollars. And there's no indication whether VW, who is rumored to enter F1 as either Audi or Porsche, would field an actual racing team or act as an engine supplier.
The FIA's World Motor Sport Council recently confirmed F1 teams will switch to 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines starting with the 2013 season, but stopped short of officially stating the expected turbocharger and direct injection systems would be put into play.
"The WMSC approved the introduction of a new specification engine from 2013, underlining the FIA's commitment to improving sustainability and addressing the needs of the automotive industry," said the FIA in a news release. "Following dialogue with the engine manufacturers and experts in this field, the power units will be four cylinders, 1.6 litre with high pressure gasoline injection up to 500 bar."
While teams will need to reduce fuel consumption by 35 percent, they will also turn back to an old friend in the Kinetic Energy Recovery System. KERS was last seen in F1 aiding the Ferrari and McLaren teams at the end of the 2009 season, where it was capturing kinetic energy under braking for battery storage and later used as a button-actuated power boost.
Competitors have been running normally aspirated 2.4-liter V-8s since 2006; prior to that, 3.0-liter V-10s were the norm. With just four pistons and four connecting rods to be at work in 2013, the FIA has mandated the reduction of the rev limit to 12,000 rpm for the four-cylinders, down from the 18,000-rpm limit currently employed. The loss in revs should help get rid of some of the internal friction losses inherent to a speedily spinning engine.