Audi R18 e-tron Quattro Diesel Hybrid LMP1 2014
The 2014-generation Audi R18 e-tron quattro is the most complex race car ever built by Audi. At first glance, the new hybrid sports car appears like a continuous further development of the World Championship winning car and Le Mans winner of the past two years. However, due to the new LMP1 regulations that come into effect in 2014, Audi Sport has actually redeveloped every single component.
“The next Audi R18 e-tron quattro represents a completely new generation of Le Mans prototypes,” explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “The principles of the LMP1 regulations have fundamentally changed. The idea behind this is to achieve similarly fast lap times as in the past with considerably less energy. Making more out of less: a forward-thinking approach.”
Chris Reinke, Head of LMP at Audi Sport, talks about a ‘revolution in thinking’. “A fundamental approach to motorsport is being abandoned. Instead of power output, energy consumption will be subject to limitations – this is in line with the spirit of our times and opens up great technical freedom to the engineers. In 2014, we’ll be seeing a wide variety of concepts on the grid at Le Mans.”
The basic elements of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro’s new configuration were defined back in 2012 and the design of all the single components started at the end of 2012. The new LMP1 sports car was rolled out in the fall of 2013 followed by track tests of the most recent R18.
In the new Technical Regulations, a large number of principal definitions, which concern the powertrain, body dimensions, safety and aerodynamics, were re- determined. With the new R18, Audi Sport has opted for a similar concept as in the past – albeit with innovative detailed solutions and an additional hybrid system. The key details:
-A further developed V6 TDI mid-engine powers the rear wheels
- e-tron quattro hybrid system at the front axle (ERS-K – Energy Recovery System Kinetic, a system to store kinetic energy)
-Optimized flywheel energy storage system
- Hybrid system with an electric turbocharger in the internal combustion engine (ERS-H – Energy Recovery System Heat, a system that stores energy converted from heat)
New approaches to powertrain technology and energy management
-Never before has a race car been powered by technology as complex as the one used in Audi’s new LMP1 sports car. The TDI engine, which sets the benchmark in terms of efficiency, remains a time-tested and important element of the overall concept. The further developed V6 TDI unit of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro makes a crucial contribution to the car’s compliance with the energy specifications of the regulations. The new R18 has to do with up to 30 percent less fuel than its immediate predecessor.
In addition to the internal combustion engine, the powertrain concept for the first time, features the integration of two hybrid systems. As in the past, a Motor-Generator-Unit (MGU) during braking, recovers kinetic energy at the front axle which flows into a flywheel energy storage system. . After testing various energy recovery systems, Audi decided to compete in the class of up to two megajoules of recuperation energy at Le Mans. For the first time, the turbocharger of the internal combustion engine is linked to an electrical machine which makes it possible to convert the thermal energy of the exhaust gas flow into electric energy – for instance when the boost pressure limit has been reached.
This energy also flows into the flywheel energy storage system. When the car accelerates, the stored energy can either flow back to the MGU at the front axle or to the innovative electric turbocharger, depending on the operating strategy.
The overall design of these systems and their direct impact on engine and powertrain management require highly complex coordination and tuning work. Audi Sport initially performed theoretical analyses and simulations followed by rig testing and, since October, by track tests. The options available to the drivers and engineers as a result of the new technology are now more extensive than ever before.
Significantly changed conditions for the aerodynamicists New freedoms, accompanied by greater restrictions – this is how the new framework conditions for aerodynamics can be put in a nutshell. Some examples: The 10 centimeter narrower body of the new LMP1 sports car means that the front of the R18 becomes mathematically smaller – which is an advantage. The bodywork accommodates slimmer wheels, which, in turn, reduces aerodynamic drag. This is contrasted by other innovations that do not provide any advantages in aerodynamics. At 1,050 millimeters, the race car has to be 20 millimeters higher than before and larger cockpit dimensions are prescribed as well. This leads to less favorable aerodynamics. The lower overall width of the car results in a slimmer underfloor. In addition, it features a completely different shape in the area of the cutouts for the front wheels. Consequently, the area that can produce downforce becomes smaller. With respect to designing the front end, the engineers enjoy new freedoms. Instead of a diffusor, a genuine front wing with a flap may be used for the first time. This promises aerodynamic advantages and lower costs, as this part of the bodywork will lend itself to easier modification to suit the various race tracks. In the past, it was necessary to produce different bodywork assemblies.
On the other hand, greater limits have been imposed on the aerodynamic design freedoms at the rear end. Use of the exhaust gas in the area of the rear diffusor, as in the case of the 2013-generation Audi R18 e-tron quattro, is now prohibited. Further improvement of safety.
Even in the past, LMP1 sports cars with their closed CFRP cockpit structure were regarded as one of the safest race car categories of all. Two severe accidents of the R18 at Le Mans in 2011 saw the Audi drivers get off lightly. But this is no reason to stop. The rule-makers have continued to improve the safety of the latest race car generation by imposing numerous discrete requirements.
The new monocoque has to resist higher loads. At the same time, it is reinforced by additional layers of fabric that are hard to penetrate in the case of a concentrated impact. This reduces the risk of intrusion by pointed objects in accidents.
For the first time, wheel tethers are prescribed. They connect the outer assemblies of the front wheel suspension with the monocoque and the ones of the rear suspension with the chassis structure. Each of the two tethers required per wheel can withstand forces of 90 KN – which equates to a weight force of nine metric tons. Another new feature is a CFRP structure behind the transmission – the so-called ‘crasher’ – which absorbs energy in a collision.
This is another example of the considerable challenges faced by the Audi engineers, as all these innovations increase weight, in addition to the second hybrid system. Audi’s previous Le Mans prototype weighed 915 kilograms. But in the future the car’s weight may be reduced to 870 kilogram – which means that Audi’s ultra-lightweight design technology reaches a new dimension.
A large number of further innovations – for instance in the areas of vision and interior ergonomics – characterize the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro that will be making its racing debut in the 6-hour race at Silverstone (Great Britain) on April 20, 2014. The highlight of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) will be the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 14/15, 2014. The aim is clear: Audi is setting its sights on continuing to maintain the leading role it has enjoyed in sports prototype racing since 2000 and on again demonstrating ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ at Le Mans.
Improved ergonomics for Audi’s WEC drivers
Audi has developed a new concept for the R18 e-tron quattro’s ergonomics for the 2014 season. The configuration of the elements in the cockpit is even more logical now, their functions have been rethought, and the seating position has been improved. This makes it easier for the Audi drivers in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) to operate the controls of the hybrid sports car.
The range of tasks is growing: The Audi drivers not only have to pay the same attention to safety, speed and precision on track as before, but now have to get an exact handle on efficiency as well. The maximum consumption per lap specified by the regulations requires utmost discipline to avoid penalties. To make optimal concentration easier, the drivers’ work in the cockpit should involve as little effort as possible.
“Long before the 2014 season, we took an in-depth look at how we could support our drivers even better,” says Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi Sport. “The result is a cockpit in which we practically changed everything – from the pedals through to the functions on the steering wheel and on the dashboard. Additionally, the seating position has been changed according to the regulations.”
The innovations start in the foot well. The drivers no longer operate the clutch using a foot pedal but by means of paddles behind the steering wheel. “This is a principle I’m already familiar with from other race car categories which makes it easier to operate the clutch,” says Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi describing the advantages.
The configuration of the controls between the dashboard and the steering wheel has changed as well. “Our objective was for the driver to be able to reach all the functions he frequently uses as easily as possible without having to take his hands off the wheel,” explains Chris Reinke, Head of LMP at Audi Sport. One of the new features is a multi-functional rotary switch for selecting tasks that used to be performed by using various controls. Two push-buttons make it possible for the driver to easily change individual functions to adjust the car’s balance, for instance through traction control or brake force distribution. As balance changes when the fuel load decreases, the driver can quickly readjust the set-up of his race car this way.
Another ergonomic consequence results from the regulations for 2014. They prescribe a change in cockpit dimensions and a different seating position which significantly benefits the driver. While he used to lie relatively flat in the monocoque before, his upper body is now in a more upright position. “This enlarges the forward angle of vision,” says a pleased Lucas di Grassi. “And vision through the side windows has notably improved as well. This clearly helps us in the on-track battles with our rivals.”
So the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro is not only a particularly efficient race car but ergonomically superior to its predecessors as well. “The new ergonomics help our drivers concentrate on the optimal lap even better than before,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “In total, this enhances their performance capacity and adds to active safety.”
Le Mans 2014 - Facts on Audi’s 13th Le Mans victory
In front of nearly 300,000 spectators, Audi continued its unique string of victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours. In the 82nd running of the world’s most important endurance race, Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) and Lucas di Grassi/Marc Gené/Tom Kristensen (BR/E/DK) made for a one-two Audi victory.
The current Audi R18 e-tron quattro on clinching its Le Mans victory consumed 22 percent less fuel than its predecessor in 2013. With that, Audi has again raised the benchmark.
The regulations allow the Audi R18 e-tron quattro to use clearly less fuel than last year. Audi saved energy through the use of ultra technologies such as optimized aerodynamics, 45 kilograms less weight of the race car, a newly developed 4-liter V6 TDI engine, an optimized hybrid system and a new driveline.
In total, Audi’s victorious hybrid sports car designated as car number 2 used 22 percent less fuel per 100 kilometers than the 2013 R18 e-tron quattro. Ever since the TDI era began in racing in 2006 this has resulted in a 38-percent consumption reduction.
After LED headlights with matrix beam technology had made their way from the Audi R18 e-tron quattro into production cars a year ago, the new Audi laser light is the most recent innovation that has been tested at Le Mans and will now initially be available to customers in a special model.
With 13 victories in 16 events Audi has increased its Le Mans success rate to 81.25 percent. No other automobile manufacturer in the history of the race that has been held since 1923 has clinched such a large number of winners’ trophies in such a short time. Porsche – with a tally of 16 victories – remains the historic record holder. These wins are spread across the period between 1970 and today.
In addition to the winners’ trophy of the organizer, Audi, as the most efficient participant, won the Michelin Total Performance Award in the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours. Car #2 ranks in front of the #1 sister car in the tire manufacturer’s classification.
At 29 pit stops, Audi changed the tires of the victorious R18 e-tron quattro eleven times, which meant the winners used only twelve sets of tires, most of which had to last for several stints.
Michelin, Audi’s tire partner ever since the LMP1 program was launched, was successful at Le Mans for the 23rd time.
Audi has equaled its own record. From 2004 to 2008, the company won Le Mans five times in succession. The most recent success completes the next five in a string that has been unbroken since 2010.
The team of Reinhold Joest celebrated its 15th victory at La Sarthe. The outfit based in Germany’s Odenwald region won with Audi eleven times and twice, respectively, with a Porsche and a TWR Porsche. In addition, personnel from Joest Racing were instrumental in achieving the 1994 victory of Dauer Racing and the 2003 success of Bentley.
The victorious Audi of Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer required 29 pit stops on its 5,165.391 kilometer drive. The aggregated stopping time was 58 minutes and 12.362 seconds. Never before has an Audi R18 covered such a long distance at Le Mans within 24 hours.
The victorious Audi achieved an average speed of 214.927 km/h on its 379 laps. The fastest race lap was driven by André Lotterer in 3m 22.567s. This equates to a speed of 242.213 km/h. For Audi, this marked the tenth fastest race lap at Le Mans.
263,300 spectators watched the 82nd running of the Le Mans 24 Hours on location. A crowd of 245,000 attended last year’s victorious event. When Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer won in 2012, 240,000 fans had turned out for the spectacle at La Sarthe.
Tom Kristensen has continued a string of personal top performances. The Dane has been on podium fourteen times in 18 runs now – his nine victories included. His car failed to finish only four events. This means that the Dane has been in one of the top three spots in any of the races he finished.
The long-tail version of the R18 e-tron quattro specifically developed for Le Mans is designed for low aerodynamic drag. This version of the hybrid sports car achieves a top speed that is up to 30 km/h higher than that of the race car for the other WEC rounds.
The safety cars were only deployed four times this year. In total, the race was neutralized for 1.38 hours. In addition, ‘slow zones’ in which the participants had to adhere to a maximum speed of 60 km/h were announced three times. In total, the ‘slow zones’ that were limited to individual track sectors amounted to 1.07 hours.
Following the most recent success, the ten Audi drivers, including reserve driver Marc Gené, have a combined tally of 20 victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Audi has achieved 31 podium results at Le Mans to date. In addition to the 13 winners’ trophies achieved since 1999, the brand has clinched seven second and eleven third places.
Audi’s success marked the eighth Le Mans victory with TDI power, the third consecutive one for the e-tron quattro hybrid system and the 31st victory for a German manufacturer as well as for closed-wheel race cars and turbocharged engines.
Today’s Volkswagen Group brands Audi (13), Bentley (6), Bugatti (2) and Porsche (16) now have a combined track record of 37 victories at Le Mans.
Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer decided the iconic endurance race in France in their favor for the third time in four years. Since 1923, the only other unchanged driver squads to have achieved success three times at La Sarthe were Phil Hill/Olivier Gendebien, Jacky Ickx/Derek Bell and Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro/Tom Kristensen. No driver line-up has ever scored four victories together.
The victorious Audi trio celebrated its success together with the British race engineer Leena Gade for the third time.
For the eighth time, a squad in car #2 has won at Le Mans. Audi was previously successful with the number two car in 2008 and 2011.
38 of the 54 race cars that started the race saw the finish – an arrival rate of 70.37 percent. Two of the three Audis on the grid saw the black and white checkered flag. Only car #3 retired after becoming entangled in an accident on lap 26 through no fault of the driver’s.
This year, Le Mans saw nine race leaders, which meant the lead changed eight times. All three automobile manufacturers from the LMP1 class recorded leading laps. On lap 220, Audi took the top spot for the first time. Audi was the only marque with two different cars leading the field during parts of the race: car #1 recorded 66 leading laps and car #2 was heading the field for 73 laps.
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