Powering the next generation
For aspiring Formula 1 drivers, the quest for glory can only be achieved through a combination of on-track skill and precision engineering. Future Grand Prix stars demand the best teams, state-of-the-art-equipment, and manufacturers with a track record for excellence.
On the pathway to the top, the UK is well-established in attracting the best drivers, whether that is Ayrton Senna or Lewis Hamilton, thanks to the unrivalled single-seater categories that provide the best foundations for the stars of the future.
With a new chassis and engine for 2022, the F4 British Championship certified by FIA will be the top globally recognised entry level series on the single-seater pathway for the next generation and this has been achieved through a new alliance with Tatuus and Abarth engines.
The introduction of Europe’s most successful chassis-engine combination in recent times to Britain’s version of FIA Formula 4 presents a fresh challenge for the championship’s technical department, who have worked in partnership with renowned engine supplier and tuner Neil Brown Engineering since 2018.
The continued support of NBE has been a positive factor for the first seven teams signed up for the next generation of British F4, including current championship leaders, JHR Developments.
“It’s fantastic news that Neil Brown Engineering will continue to support British F4 into a new era with the introduction of Abarth engines,” said team principal, Steven Hunter.
“This is predominantly a learning formula for the drivers, and the work that NBE have put in over the last few years to achieve a real parity of performance between the cars has had a real impact.
“That is reflected in the quality of the racing, and I have a real trust in their abilities to hit the ground running with this new Abarth power unit in the same fashion.”
As well as providing support at each of the 10 high-profile British Touring Car Championship events to teams and drivers, NBE are also responsible for engine equalisation at two key points in the year, as well as monitoring performance in-season to help deliver a level playing field for all competitors.
The team recently made the journey out to Abarth in Italy for a first look at the new power unit ahead of a busy winter developing the new package, as Engineering Sales and Workshop Manager, Wayne Mathurin, explains.
“Our visit to Abarth was our first opportunity to look at the new engine in person and analyse the unit before the first one arrived at our workshop for a closer examination this week,” he says.
“Our first job is to run it on a dyno to canvass its capabilities and for our engineers to get a better understanding of the power unit and which areas we need to focus on for development. We’ll make some alterations to the engine’s components in November, which then gives the teams a solid foundation on which to test throughout the winter.”
NBE’s contribution during the series’ previous iteration with Ford power proved invaluable, with parity across all competitors achieved to within 0.075% of one horsepower across every unit in the field, and an increased longevity in the lifespan of engine components.
“We recognise the important role we have to play in ensuring the same level of competition remains, despite the changes to the powertrain for 2022 and beyond,” says Mathurin.
“It’s also about educating the engineers off-circuit, as this is also a key proving ground for the team’s personnel, many of them mirroring the drivers in starting their careers in British F4. So there may be some alterations we make just to make it more user-friendly, such as the ECU.
“Ultimately, we want the rest of the world to recognise British F4 as the benchmark, with a race-proven, industry-leading package. We can have an influence on that from our position as an engine supplier and tuner, so it’s a very exciting project to be involved with.”
NBE’s inclusion also gives confidence to new entrants, such as Chris Dittmann Racing, enabling them to compete with more experienced Formula 4 outfits from the outset on receipt of the new chassis-engine package.
“For us, the expansion into British F4 marked a key milestone in our team’s history,” explained team owner Chris Dittmann.
“Most, if not all, of the existing teams in the championship look set to continue, so the introduction of the new car and engine is the perfect leveller to ensure we can hit the ground running, even as a new entry.
“Knowing that NBE are continuing as part of the technical department is definitely a reassurance to us. In a formula like this, driver ability and setup should be the two key deciding factors in the outcome of a race, and we’re confident the championship will continue to achieve this.”