The Future Of Formula One May Involve Two-Stroke Engines

Formula One’s future is under debate and two-stroke engines may be a part of it

Over its 70-plus years of existence, the Formula One series continues to evolve

The next chapter in its evolution will commence in 2025 and while the future steps are currently under discussion, they could include a transition to two-stroke engines. But what are the pros and cons?

Nowadays, two-stroke engines can mostly be seen in lawnmowers and dirt bikes

However, despite being largely replaced by the four-stroke design, two-stroke engines have been used for motorsport purposes since as early as 1926

Two-stroke engines have certain pros over the four-stroke architecture

Since two-stroke engines don't need a valvetrain, their construction is much simpler and cost-effective. One of F1's goals is exactly that - to reduce the cost of development and building of F1 powertrains

However, two-stroke engines also have inherent disadvantages

Theoretically, a two-stroke engine should be able to make twice the power of a four-stroke engine with a similar displacement. However, two-stroke engines suffer from incomplete scavenging, meaning not all exhaust gases leave the combustion chambers

Another disadvantage is the inefficient lubrication

The lubrication system of the crankcase is not separated, meaning the intake air and fuel mix with the oil. This means that two-stroke engines burn oil by design, making them environmentally unfriendly

Formula One's 2025 strategy involves sustainability and carbon neutrality

With this in mind, two-stroke engines will need a significant upgrade, in order to comply. Moreover, no F1 team is currently interested in reinventing the F1 engine

But there is hope for the two-stroke engine yet and Ferrari may have the answer

Back in 1994, they developed the F134 - a two-stroke prototype engine that solved all disadvantages of the two-stroke design. It adopted certain traits from the four-stroke design, such as an oil pan and an exhaust valvetrain

The idea of Formula 1 switching to two-stroke engines came from Chief F1 Engineer, Pat Symmonds

It was Ferrari's prototype that made him see potential in the two-strokes. However, given that motorsport engineering is often a testbed for road-going performance cars, it doesn't seem feasible given the two-stroke's lack of popularity in the real world

Whatever happens after 2025, we know that F1 cars will still feature a turbocharged, hybrid setup

Ferrari was on to something, back in 1994, but if no one makes a strong case for the two-stroke design, F1 cars will most likely end up with an evolution of the current powertrain, which dates back to 2014

Swipe up for more information on F1's potential switch to two-stroke engines

Do you think it would make sense, given the pros, cons, and untapped potential of the two-stroke design?


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