Mercedes edging towards 1,000bhp from engine despite reliability fixes

2017 F1 season

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Mercedes say their power unit is getting closer to reaching the 1,000bhp milestone despite making further efforts to improve reliability in the wake of Lewis Hamilton’s engine failure in last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s high-profile retirement while he was leading the race came at a decisive point in the championship battle.

Mercedes W08, Silverstone, 2017
Pictures: Mercedes launch new 2017 car
“We had a few painful incidents last year,” Mercedes engine designer Andy Cowell admitted at the launch of the team’s new car today.

“The team, we’ve done a few investigations into that and there are some very big changes in Brixworth right from the way we do our research, the way that we approve steps forward, the way that we do our concept reviews, the way that we confirm that development is appropriate. The way we work with suppliers, the way we manufacture bits ourselves. The way we assemble parts, quality throughout the whole chain has been lifted.”

“On [Hamilton’s Malaysian Grand Prix failure] there are about six design changes within the engine to improve that particular system, the bearing system. And probably about three or four quality improvements in the way the power unit’s assembled and then looked after through its life.”

However Cowell revealed the team is closing on the milestone 1,000bhp figure from its V6 hybrid turbo engine.

“It’s getting closer and closer every upgrade,” he said. “I don’t think we’re ever going to say exactly where we are.”

“To win races it’s not about a ‘dyno derby’. If we were having a ‘dyno derby’ the power train would be completely different and we wouldn’t be bothered about volume or mass or heat rejection.”

“The partnership that we’ve got means that we optimise every system to come up with the fastest race car to win the race. And it’s not just about qualifying, it’s about winning the races, getting those 25 points. That’s what we spend our working lives and a lot of our out-of-work lives thinking about, and the whole team at both Brackley and Brixworth focus on.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “Mercedes edging towards 1,000bhp from engine despite reliability fixes”

  1. Like they would brag about it if they passed 1000bhp, which I suspect they already have.

  2. This is hugely impressive, and yet all people can do is focus on the noise. This is the message that needs to be put out there, not “they are rubbish because they don’t sound like they used to”. F1 is doing such a poor job of advertising the fact that the cars are hybrids. No wonder manufacturers like VAG and Toyota are loathe to commit to F1, but are happy to spend on a WEC programme.

    I’ve had two work colleagues (who are both into sport and technology) in the last week come to me and say “is it true that F1 cars are hybrids now?” I wish I could show the powers that be the looks on their faces when they found out (a) how long they have been hybrids for, (b) how much power they produce and (c) how little fuel they use relative to what they used to.

    It may not matter from a sporting perspective and it may not get us petrolheads fired up, but being “green” and improving hybrid technology does matter to a lot of people out there. I get the sense from the conversations I have with people who don’t watch F1 that it could be a way to get new people interested in the sport.

    1. It didn’t help that the person who was in charge of the marketing of the sport hated the fact they were hybrids, he wasn’t going to plaster it everywhere and show how good they can be. Instead he focused on the noise.

    2. Surely that headline is wrong, 1000BHP from the ENGINE ?

      Like he says in the text, from the Power Unit, all the motors and the engine combined a momentary 1000BHP, yes, sure, I’ll buy that.

      If they got 1000BHP from a 1,6 liter V6 with restricted fuel, they’d make all the money outside racing from every manufacturer out there

      1. In the fuel are 1240 kilowatts of potentially available energy and currently they are getting 50% out of it, that is 818hpfrom the ICE alone.

    3. Exactly. What’s even worse is that it was the guy who was supposed to promote F1 who was the loudest advocate on how rubbish F1 is. Perhaps the new “owners” will have a bit more sense.

      @uneedafinn2win, Obviously “engine” in this case is meant as the term for “power unit” or “power train” as a whole. Like in “V6 hybrid turbo engine” and not just the internal combustion engine (ICE).

      1. “The new ownership” Ross Brawn believes it might be time for F1 to stop thinking about it’s technology being road car relevant when the sports decides on the next generation of engines.

      2. he didnt say ICE, so he probably meant PU as a whole…

    4. @geemac I don’t see why noise and power have to be mutually exclusive. I want engines to make tons of power using less and less fuel, but I also want them to be loud. They do sound horrible compared to the beasts we used to have.

      Technology isn’t everything. Things can improve a lot, but we’re still watching the sport we love through our senses, and taking the noise out of it really makes it worse. For me at least. I want pretty and loud cars.

      I admire the technology behind it, but I don’t love it. I frequently watch videos from the 90s and early 2000s and I prefer those V10s all day long. I know they are not coming back, but that’s what I want. Not the sound of these hybrid things.

      It’s like Formula E. It’s terrific, technologically speaking. But I’ll never be passionate about it. They are slow and they don’t make any noise. That’s not exciting to me.

      1. Noise is wasted energy. You can always watch Monster trucks

        1. This^^^

          A huge +1 for BigJoe

        2. Exactly. Of course I prefer the V10s to the current engines from a noise perspective, but that doesn’t mean that the new engines aren’t hugely impressive.

        3. almost_frederic
          24th March 2017, 14:38

          People who miss the V10s don’t just want “MOAR NOIZE”. They had a distinctive sound that was unique to Formula One. It was one of the signature differences that set the sport apart from other top-tier series, along with Monaco and racing in the rain. I can still remember the awe on my friends’ faces when they heard it and I told them it was coming from a 3.0L engine revving close to 20k.

      2. @fer-no65 as BigJoe said, sound is wasted energy. People complain about the hybrids but unless they are outlawed, that sort of energy advance is difficult to undo. There is a reason that the hyperest of hypercars are hybrids, because energy recovery from internal combustion engines (ICE) is necessary as an ICE is very wasteful. These cars are tremendously frugal and put down massive power because they are hybrid. Even if cars were allowed to have V8s, V10s, V12s back, it would be stupid to not consider slapping a hybrid ERS-type system on whatever ICE is allowed because of the benefits. Maybe the cost-benefit isn’t there in all applications, but the technology is advancing (in part because of F1) and the day will soon come when peak performance vehicles will all be hybrid.

        TL:DR = A team may want to produce more sound for some fans, but doubtful they want to give up the power gained in order to make noise.

    5. Right as you may be, the problem is that many casual fans interested in the sport simply aren’t that bothered. It might be interesting and impressive to hear about these hybrids, but at the end of the day it’s not something “consumable”, if you like. The noise and excitement of a loud engine is in your face and therefore naturally appeals to more people. F1 always wants to be entertainment, as most sports are

      1. Right. If they really are casual fans interested in the sport, the technology used in the sport would be of interest. That the sport has the most efficient racing engines every created is of some casual interest.

        The noise and excitement of a loud engine is impressive – for about 10 seconds, but 90-120 minutes of breathtaking tight racing can be very entertaining for an hour. But as a full aero series…well…standing starts are exciting.

    6. Some dragsters put out about 6,000 hp on an 8.1 litre engine — so what if that’s 740 hp/litre, they only last quarter of a mile ;={
      What would be *much* more interesting would be to see a 1.6 litre turbocharged F1 car without batteries, recovery systems and all the associated gubbins, take the minimum weight down to cell / driver safety only, and see how fast they are. Conservative maths suggest they’d be about as fast, and with minimal development, faster. Cost would certainly come down, smaller teams would be less threatened by bankruptcy, noise/sound might be more pleasing, average “Joe-public” might relate better to the sport, aerodynamics (weight/bodywork related) could reduce wake and do away with DRS for overtaking, more…
      All this “green”, “fuel economy” (talk to the Boeing 747 pilots who transport the F1 circus around the world), and “road relevance” (the FIA said so) is total “fake news.” Yes, improvement can be had and we will get there, but F1 should be brought back down to a real sport, for drivers, teams and fans, rather than a wet dream for megalomaniac billionaires.

      1. Sigh @paul-a. The reason why this is “road relevant” has little to do with how much the cars themselves actually use (although I fully agree with @Geemac that it is an amazing feat and that and the tech they use to achieve it should be properly promoted), the reality is that because road cars are getting more and more into using as much of the energy available (getting from about 35% to what F1 cars now achieve, over 50% is exactly what that is about) they need to invest into research and development to learn how to do it.

        F1 gives them a nice platform where they can learn things that will help them with development in the real world of building and selling of millions of cars. Battery tech is one point (see how both McLaren and Williams are now supplying batteries and electric motors to others, including deals in motorsports AND outside of it, for example), how to best use the energy is another – both in how to manage output from the ICE and the heat energy use – something that is not used in any road cars YET.

    7. Are you sure? Can you suggest to Dorna motoGP they should put the sound down. Then the fans will be ..Poouuuffff.. gone

  3. This is becoming worrying now, with the rumours flying about that Mercedes have made another big jump and adding reliability to their engine as well as the news coming out that the new Renault engine only lasted 6 laps today for STR filming day.

    1. Where did you hear this info?

    2. Wasn’t unexpected. Mercedes is committing more resources to their engine program than Ferrari or Renault– and I’m not sure what the heck Honda is doing.

  4. Power unit power should be average during a lap, doesn’t it nowadays? What does 1,000bhp figure show us? How and when is it measured? Is it maximum power with batteries loaded? Or average during a lap?

  5. Power unit power should be average during a lap, doesn’t it nowadays? What does 1,000bhp figure show us? How and when is it measured? Is it maximum power with batteries loaded? Or average during a lap?

  6. “On [Hamilton’s Malaysian Grand Prix failure] there are about six design changes within the engine to improve that particular system, the bearing system. And probably about three or four quality improvements in the way the power unit’s assembled and then looked after through its life.”

    That is actually super impressive if true. I guess with all the millions of dollars available to be spent it makes sense to look at each and every failure so critically.

    1. Hopefully they fixed the clutch too!

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