Ever since turbo engines returned to Formula 1 in 2014, Mercedes have been the team to beat. Their power unit has been the most powerful, most reliable and most efficient of the bunch. But they aren’t sitting still.
Despite their dominance, development continues. Now they are almost about to break another barrier. 1000 bhp. Andy Cowell, the man in charge of Mercedes’ engine program has already confirmed they passed the 900 mark this season. When asked how close to the 1000 barrier, all he said was “We’re close.” Engine’s surpassing 1000bhp havent been seen since the old turbo days. However, the current V6 turbos have a way to go before they catch up to the fire-breathing monsters of the 80’s.
Earlier this year they announced they had achieved 50% thermal efficiency from their IC engine. The record was set on their dyno, but makes their M08 EQ Power + unit the most efficient racing engine ever made. The thermal efficiency is the measure of how much useful energy produced compared to the heat energy put in. With the limits on fuel flow rate, increasing this number has become a focus of modern engine builders.
One thing Cowell did touch on was the difference between the dyno and the track. At the moment the huge efficiencies have only been seen in dyno tests. “When you go to total car lap time, that’s the bit where there’s work being done to improve the technology on the car to enhance both aerodynamic and power unit performance.” The performance of the power units has to be ballanced against the performance of the car. There is no use in an engine producing 1500bhp if the car design can’t cool the thing.
All of this points to the fact that 2018 will see some of the fastest Grand Prix cars ever produced. Especially if the power figures keep rising.
Words: Tom Gibson @WA10Tom