There’s a ton of V8 fans out there, and for a good reason. They perform well, they’re relatively cheap, and there are plenty to choose from. But, there aren’t many 8-cylinder engines that sound as unique and amazing as the above 2.4-liter Honda F1 engine. I know, Honda isn’t exactly your first thought when thinking of a V8, but this isn’t an engine you’d find in an ordinary road car, so let’s check out what makes this thing so cool.
Honda has been a motorsports engine supplier for multiple F1 teams off and on for quite some time, including Mercedes, McLaren, Red Bull Racing, Toro Rosso, AlphaTauri, and Williams. These aerodynamic machines need a strong engine to back them up. This particular engine was originally engineered for the 2006 racing season. Just listen to that thing scream on the engine dyno as it increases RPM.
Honda started development on the engine back in 2004, when Formula One announced its mandated switch from V10 engines to V8s. There were some challenges along the way, but the Japanese manufacturer was determined to create an engine that would surpass the V10s in terms of power-per-liter and without a turbo. It was the first time they had created a V8 for this type of racing, so they ran into a few roadblocks in the next years with this power unit.
The main issue they had was the vibration that the engine created. Senior technical director Shuhei Nakamoto said that the torque curve was not smooth on a V8, so the Honda engine made it difficult for the traction control systems to work properly. It took lots of time and work, but they eventually managed to noticeably flatten the curve. Preseason testing ensued, and then the engine was ready to compete in the actual 2006 F1 season.
When asked about the engines for the 2006 season, Honda stated “We encountered seven engine failures in the course of 18 grand prix weekends, all of which were reciprocation-related problems. Many of them were caused by the uneven quality of the parts affected by vibration in the crankshaft area.” The vibration issue was still there, which forced Honda to step up their quality control.
During the second half of the season, Honda introduced many changes to the engine. It received a new fuel system, and the injector design was modified. Additionally, it was given an all-new cylinder headl. The results ended up giving the engine new power with improved low and mid range torque. Reliability improved as well, which allowed the team to finally run the engine at higher RPM. Honda used this RA806E engine up until 2009, the last year before they suddenly quit. Honda Formula 1 engines would return again to the sport in 2015.
Honda’s RA806E F1 Engine Specs
Compression Ratio: 13.0
Maximum Power: 747bhp
Maximum RPM: 20,000 rpm (19,000 regulation)
Engine Life: 1350km