Spark Plugs – Racing Auto Parts

From Left to Right, F1, GP bike, Production Car

From Left to Right, F1, GP bike, Production Car

A Formula 1 engine is an amazing technological achievement. The engines are rev-limited at 19,000 rpm, which is over twice what most production sports cars are capable of. To ensure that the high-reving engines don’t rip themselves apart, the Formula 1 engine piston only travels about 1.6 inches. Compare this with the 4 inch stroke of a V8 Corvette engine. The bore is approximately 3.8 inches which is more comparable to the 4.13 inch bore of the Corvette.

Spark Plug Anatomy

Spark plugs for production cars are generally about 3.5 inches long, with a diameter of about three quarters of an inch. The lower third of the spark plug is covered by a steel thread sleeve. On the top of the spark plug is a metal stud. The white part is ceramic and called the insulator. On the bottom of the threads is a small hook that bends down close to another electrode. This is the gap where the spark occurs and ignites the fuel and air mixture in the cylinder.

In an effort to conserve weight, Formula 1 spark plugs have been designed to be much smaller than spark plugs for road cars. Formula 1 spark plugs are about 1.50 inches long and the diameter of the threads is around .3 inches. The plug also has no small hook for an electrode like you would find on conventional spark plugs. They are designed this way to save space inside the cylinder and the design is called a surface-gap spark plug. If the spark plug were to have a protruding electrode, it would be shaken loose or crushed by the piston. The spark occurs on the bottom of the threads.

There is almost no room for error when it comes to manufacturing Formula 1 engine components. If the spark plug is just a fraction too long, the piston may hit. To error on the side of caution, the bottom of the piston has a divot to avoid any possible contact.



One Response to “Spark Plugs – Racing Auto Parts”

  1. Sr. Martinez Says:

    The divot in the piston is not exactly a safety mesure, since all in this engines is machined with extreme precision. It actually conforms a small air-gas pocket where the combustion starts. The extreme compression of this engines don’t leave mucho more at the height of the piston stroke.

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