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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