Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2018

Mercedes finding power gains from current engine between races

2018 F1 season

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Mercedes is finding more performance from its Formula 1 engine between races without introducing new parts.

As teams are restricted to a maximum of three new power units per car this year, engine components have to last much longer and they are fewer opportunities to introduce upgraded parts.

Mercedes has approached this by running its engines conservatively to begin with in races, while testing more aggressive power unit settings on its dynamometers.

“At the beginning of the season, the team wants to make sure that the power unit runs reliably,” Mercedes explained in a press release ahead of the German Grand Prix. “As the reliability has to be proved on the dyno, we will usually start a little more conservative to have a product that can run the required mileage.

“Once a reliable base has been established, all subsequent long runs of the engine will focus on trying to extract more power. In those runs, the team will be more willing to push the [power unit] a bit harder on the dyno.

“This is a well-calibrated process as we aim to find the exact limits of the [power unit] without overstepping them – but knowing that if we overstep the mark, there is still a proven configuration on the track.”

Mercedes abandoned its plan to introduce a new power unit in time for the Canadian Grand Prix after a problem developed during one of these dyno runs. The upgraded was introduced at the next race in France, but at the following round both drivers retired with technical problems.

That prompted Mercedes to replace the engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K on Valtteri Bottas’s car. He will now have to continue using these components until the end of the year to avoid a penalty, which could mean he is unable to fit upgraded parts later in the season.

Mercedes have led the way in power unit development since the current V6 hybrid turbo regulations were introduced in 2014. But following last week’s British Grand Prix Red Bull team principal Christian Horner claimed Ferrari now sets the benchmark in F1 power unit performance.

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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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12 comments on “Mercedes finding power gains from current engine between races”

  1. The Doctrine of the Motorsport Trinity defines the chassis, PU, and drivers in unity as a Team *.
    It is good to see that there is so much discussion and buzz around these PU; much better than in the years when the weakest PU was allowed equalisation upgrades.

    * And in line with that, the tyres are the devil, Ecclestone Judas, and only the blessed ones go to Motorsport heaven ;-)

    1. Made me chuckle this morning. Thanks, mate.

  2. At the power difference they are at to their rivals except Ferrari, why don’t they accept the penalty and just break those power units and start from last? Take 3rd and 4th for a weekend and then use new PUs the next race.

    1. yes, they will probably do something like that at a track like Monza where you can easily overtake, at least for Valterri.

        1. Champagne Papi
          17th July 2018, 12:34

          That didn’t work out well for Lewis in 2016 did it? Started from the back of the grid for a supposedly fresh set of components to see the season off and his fresher engine blew up in Malaysia.

          Not worth the ‘strategy’ imho, just maximise points every damn race.

  3. Could someone who knows better explain to me how limiting a car to 3 engines is “cost-saving”? I would presume that there is a certain diminishing rate of return on research money when it comes to power/reliability. By forcing the teams to make PUs that last 33% longer, they must’ve spent additional money on not just making them more powerful but also more reliable. Anyone aware of any cost/benefit analysis on this?

    1. The simple answer is: it’s not.
      Arc met engineer explained that using only three engines is the races meant using a multiple number on the dynos to select the best three.
      So the cost saving part is only fiction

    2. @thepostalserviceisbroke
      Seems clear that it isn’t cost saving. But no one cares.
      No one is interested in solutions. People are interested in believing in solutions.
      It’s like believing in electric cars. The very same fad that soon will deflagrate in the next big environmental crisis. Maybe even a next energy crisis.

    3. @thepostalserviceisbroke It costs money to manufacture an engine. Use less and you spend less. Also, it’s not about the manufacturers saving money, but about the smaller teams paying less for their customer engine deals.

      Sure the manufacturers teams will try to extract more performance from the engines by spending money to make it last longer or perform better for longer. Still, the manufacturing costs will go down and this means prices for the buying teams can go down.

      Go back to the turn of the millennium and teams were spending up to 80% of their budget on engines. They used multiple engines over a race weekend.

      Although indeed the benefits will be less and less by reducing further and further.

    4. the Strategy group didn’t really think of cost saving when they proposed this, they just packaged it this way. In reality, i believe they rather hoped this will bring more unreliability and more problems for the top teams, hence uncertainty for the race win.

      Breakdowns in races (like in Austria for 3 of the top 6 cars) means that teams who usually don’t finish on the podium will get a chance now. Also, blown engines means that for the next race the driver will have to start from the back of the grid, due to penalties that can not be avoided as we get closer to the end of the season, making it again a bit more interesting.

  4. The cost of evolution is on the manufacturers, client teams get the benefit in the long run

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