British engine specialists at Cosworth have revealed some stunning information about their CA2010 V-8 engine that powers the Williams, Lotus, Virgin and Hispania F1 cars this season.
Valves - as fast as a hummingbird wing beat
The speed and precision of the engine valve movements (which allow air and fuel to enter and exhaust gases to exit the cylinder) are crucial to the power and performance of the Cosworth CA2010 engine. A pneumatic spring system is employed to enable the frequency to be achieved while maintaining absolute control over valve position. At maximum engine speed, each valve opens and closes 150 times per second - that’s as fast as the fastest hummingbird wing speed; the ruby-throated hummingbird.
Air intake - airflow equivalent to 20 vacuum cleaners
At peak power the CA2010 ingests air fast enough to empty a typical living room in about 60 seconds, a task that would take over 20 minutes for the average home vacuum. (We don’t suggest you use a CA2010 to clean your carpets, though!)
Piston speed - much quicker than the human eye
The speed of the piston is of course closely linked to overall the engine speed. At maximum engine speed each piston will travel up and down the cylinder bore (a distance of 39.75mm) 300 times each second -- that’s 30 times in the blink of a human eye.
Crankshaft - fast and durable
The Cosworth CA2010 crankshaft, which transmits the engine power to the gearbox in the car rotates up to 18,000 times each minute. During a typical race such as at Monza, for example, the crank shaft will spin approximately 22,000 times each lap and will have completed an amazing 1.17 million revolutions by the end of the 53 laps that make up race distance. To meet the engine life restrictions that require each driver to use no more than 8 engines in the season, this same crank will then need to do the whole thing again at least twice more. This gives a lifetime total approaching 3.5 million revolutions in which the crankshaft transfers horsepower to the gearbox equivalent to 0.56 Mega Watts.
Connecting rod strength - able to support the weight of a Range Rover
At 18,000rpm the peak acceleration for each piston is 8,600 Gs (i.e. 8,600 times the force of gravity) -- over 2,000 times greater than the peak cornering and braking figures for an F1 car. This piston acceleration is equivalent to a weight of around 2.5 tons (or the weight of a Range Rover) pulling on the connecting rod.