Top-flight technology from Munich
P83 is the simple designation of the new power pack from Munich with which the BMW WilliamsF1 Team will be contesting the 2003 Formula One World Championship. BMW’s Formula One factory has delivered an even more powerful and compact three-litre, ten-cylinder power unit, again in close collaboration with specialists from BMW’s serial production.
In the words of BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen, “With the P83 we want to further improve last year’s performance specifications. That applies to brake horsepower as well as maximum engine speed.” The P82 unit for the 2002 season already set impressive standards with its record-breaking 19,050 revolutions a minute and an output of almost 900 bhp. “The leaps naturally become ever smaller the closer we get to the limit of what is technically possible within the prescribed regulations”, continues Theissen. “Development work will be ongoing throughout the season. Ultimately we should have fully exploited our concept’s potential. Then the regulations governing the 2004 season, allowing just one engine per GP weekend, will demand other frames of reference.”
Beyond the further enhancement of engine performance, another objective of the team under BMW’s head of F1 development, Heinz Paschen, was to optimise the centre of gravity. “Reducing the engine’s absolute weight”, explains Mario Theissen, “was not the primary development objective. The crucial aspect is weight distribution. In the upper section every possible gram is shaved off, while reducing weight at the lower end brings no benefit. That is where we are already placing some of the vehicle’s ballast today.” A modern F1 engine tips the scales at less than 100 kilograms.
Development objective: stability. While the dimensions, weight and centre of gravity are determined at the design stage, the focus during the subsequent development and testing stage is initially on reliability. “From that point of view 2002 wasn’t exactly satisfactory”, concedes Theissen, “which is why we are busy further improving internal procedures from the development stage through component manufacturing and assembly all the way to deployment at the race track. We are confident this will bear fruit. Reliability, particularly at the start of the season, virtually guarantees World Championship points.”
Around 5,000 individual components, including 1,000 different ones, have to be meticulously checked and tested before they are assembled into a racing engine in a process that requires an average of 80 working hours. “However critical reliability may be”, says Theissen, “conservative technology is not the answer in Formula One. The aim in this high-tech sport is to translate the maximum physical potential into the power unit. We want the BMW engine to set the benchmark for Formula One again in 2003. You can only explore the limits if you’re prepared at some stage to go beyond the limit. If you want to win in Formula One you have to take risks. And you can’t do that totally without any blown engines.”
From first sketch to rollout
In January and February 2002, a 20-strong team out of a total 220 BMW staff involved in the F1 project were busy working on the concept for the P83. The concept stage was followed by the construction phase. From March to June, the P83 team involved already numbered 50. Parallel to this, procurement of parts began in May. July saw the start of component testing. On 31st July the champagne corks could be heard popping in the factory at Anton-Ditt-Bogen in Munich as the P83 was switched on for the first time on the test rig.
This early date is as much a record as the day of the engine’s first on-track deployment. On 18th September 2002, the P83 completed its rollout at the Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona. “This early point in time and the shorter winter test break compared with the previous year”, explains Mario Theissen, “gave us a longer testing period overall. That is a crucial advantage for the development cycles, which are always necessary to ensure that any detected weaknesses can be reliably eliminated.”
Ongoing development from Melbourne to Suzuka
In the course of one year, more than 200 F1 engines leave the factory in north Munich. Not all of them are new. For testing purposes and practice sessions, revised and rebuilt units are also used. Meanwhile, the development phase carries on throughout the current season and the BMW engine is continuously honed. “These development steps aren’t scheduled in advance”, explains Mario Theissen. “The focus is initially on reliability, and later on enhancing performance. We will stick to our tried and tested sequence for getting the engine race-ready – each engine configuration is run for 400 kilometres at racing speed on our dynamic test rigs. The latest benchmark to be used for peak engine load, following the modifications to the Hockenheim Ring, is the Monza circuit profile. Before an engine is released for the race, performance-enhancing measures can already be used during qualifying. We won’t be developing any special qualifying engines in future either.”
Gearbox on the test rig
Development and testing work by BMW has long extended beyond the engine alone. The gearbox is another beneficiary of the company’s resources. “As car manufacturers we have the kind of state-of-the-art simulation and test facilities at our disposal that would be out of reach for a racing team”, says Theissen. “We support WilliamsF1 when it comes to the configuration of the gearbox components and make our test facilities available for function and endurance tests. The possibilities range from testing individual components all the way to race simulation involving the entire drivetrain.”
Close collaboration between engine and vehicle designers is an absolute must. To be able to test the P83 on the track at such an early stage in 2002, WilliamsF1 had modified an FW24 chassis from the previous year and fitted it with the new transmission. That allows the testing of aspects, which can’t be simulated on the engine test bench. These include, for example, the coolant circuit, oil supply during longitudinal and lateral acceleration, as well as tuning for optimum driveability.
Technology transfer from model construction to production
All the core components of the F1 engine are developed and manufactured at BMW, from the cylinder head, crankcase, crankshaft and camshaft to the electronic steering. Theissen: “The exchange of know-how between motor-sport and serial production was from the outset a mission and condition of our Formula One project.”
To guarantee the technology transfer between motorsport and serial development, the F1 factory was set up at BMW’s headquarters in Munich. The resources of BMW’s Research and Innovation Centre, just a stone’s throw away from the F1 factory, are an integral part. With this kind of backing, BMW felt confident enough from the start to develop the F1 engine electronics itself rather than rely on the well-known specialists in the sector. Engineers who normally dealt with the onboard electronics for the BMW M3 and M5 models also delivered the F1 engine control system. The knowledge they gleaned in the process flows back into road car development. Thus the BMW 7 Series features high-performance processors originally developed for Formula One.
Start and change gear in the BMW M3 like Schumacher and Montoya
The cockpit of the BMW M3 houses more relatives from Formula One. They are called “Sequential M Gearbox – SMG with DRIVELOGIC” and “Acceleration Assist”. The SMG drive concept offers F1 transmission technology for everyday driving, with gear changes actuated via paddles behind the steering wheel. As in Formula One, an electro hydraulic system replaces the mechanical clutch and shift process, and the SMG user can similarly keep his foot on the throttle during gearshifts. “Acceleration Assist” is an automatic system that allows the driver to programme an optimal start with regulated slip, comparable to launch control at the start of a Grand Prix.
Other examples of technology transfer are not as obvious. BMW runs its own F1 engine foundry, which is directly attached to the production engine facility. As a result, new casting techniques find their way directly into serial production. Using the same sand-casting process as used for the Formula One V10, oil sumps are cast for the M3, M5 and Z8 models as well as the intake manifold for the eight-cylinder diesel engine.
Decisive impulses are also provided by the materials research carried out on behalf of the Formula One involvement. Conversely, the F1 team benefits from the know-how and facilities in the field of rapid prototyping. BMW’s own Formula One parts manufacturing department, like the foundry attached to the related production car department, similarly aids the simultaneous networking of design and production for race and road cars. Theissen: “As a result of the tremendous demands of Formula One development, we can utilise and improve our in-house expertise at BMW and channel it into serial production.”
Working towards the future – the 2004 engine
The resources and laboratories of the various BMW divisions in Munich have long been working towards targets beyond 2003. While the P83 was undergoing its first test drives in the autumn of 2002, Munich was already starting on the concept for the engine destined for 2004. The regulations in force then will stipulate that just one engine may be used for the entire Grand Prix weekend. It means the demands on running distances will increase from the current 400 to 800 kilometres. “Development work for that unit definitely presents a new challenge”, stresses BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen, “and with it a new chance to be the best.”
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