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28 Sept 2012

I hear a lot of fans and media alike claiming that Hamilton's move to Mercedes is intrinsically linked to the new V6 Turbo engines that will befall the formula in 2014. I fail to see the connection behind this theory, yes this will be the first time since 2006 F1 has been without the V8 engines but Mercedes will allow their engine partners the same engines as the works teams. So with the same engine as McLaren & Force India in 2014 surely there are no advantages to being at the Silver Arrows?

However it's not the core engine that could make the difference for Mercedes it's the rise of the new ERS (Energy Recovery System) within the 2014 regulations. With core power from the V6 Turbo engines being down on the current V8 engines more focus has been shifted toward energy recovery and this is something that Mercedes may not include in their engine partnership deals.

This comes in two forms:

MGUK - Recovery and Usage via the drivetrain as KERS uses now will be upped from 60kw's to 120kw's maximum output. The current power allowed per lap is 400kj's and this has been raised to 2mj's (5 times the amount) at the current 60kw's this gives around 30 seconds of power per lap

MGUH – The pressure turbine (Turbo) is allowed a mechanical link, this is used to extract thermal energy from the turbo that can be repurposed at lower RPM via the same mechanical link. At high power outputs the turbo will create more pressure than can be used by the limitation of fuel flow within the regulations. This will be regulated by controlling the compressor speed for both harvesting and dispensing of energy. No limit has been placed on the amount of energy that can be harvested or dispensed by this system with the battery storage capacity being the limiting factor.

ES (Energy Store) – There is a minimum weight of 20kg's and maximum of 25kg's weight for the ES, based on current Lithium Ion Polymer Batteries 1MJ can be stored per KG giving a maximum of 25MJ available. You also have to consider packaging and battery degradation into the life of the ES which means more likely the ES could store somewhere around 15-20MJ's of power with 2Mj's attributed to the MGUK this leaves a sizable chunk to be proportioned to the MGUH. Assuming they wish to create roughly 160BHP permanently through the MGUH (average laptime of 1.40.00) they would need around 16.8MJ's of storage or 16.8KG's.

I believe Mercedes are pinning their 2014 hopes on the basis of an ERS system that is vastly superior to many other designs with them maybe only selling the core engine to their engine partners (McLaren & Force India) they may be able to steal a march on them. Having based my crude assumptions for power output and battery life on Lithium Ion Polymer batteries Mercedes may also have other technology up their sleeve. With a leap needed to be made by car manufacturers in order to make electric road cars more viable Mercedes may be looking to use Lithium Air batteries which can store around 9Mj's per Kg making the thirst for more power even more accessible.

EDIT 29/09/12

Listening to feedback on the article I'd like to add that MBHPP (Mercedes Benz High Performance Powertrains) currently supply their works team (Mercedes), McLaren & Force India with 2.4 Litre V8 Engines and KERS.  However as Red Bull have proven this year even if you're supplied something the team can adopt a different solution.  Red Bull are supplied their KERS as part of their engine package from RenaultSport but have this season also run with Supercapacitors on the floor in order to alter the way in which power is distributed and used.  Mercedes (GP) could indeed re manufacturer their own components in house not utilising all the components sent to them by their sister company MBHPP giving them an advantage over McLaren & Force India.  That's not to say that those two teams couldn't do the same and gain an advantage but the cost / R&D would be much larger.

I won't bang on about Mercedes short comings over previous years (already covered that in my article: The Trouble at Mercedes - ) but it's safe to say that Lewis' decision wasn't based upon the teams poor performances since their inception in 2010 or their slow development rate throughout each season (2012 being a prime example with it taking them to race 12 to bring the 'Coanda' style exhaust even though it's been clear it has an advantage from an early stage).  If Lewis has made his decision to race for Mercedes on a technical ground it is that he will be the focus of each car build and development plan each season coupled with the opportunity for Mercedes to steal a march in the regulation changes of 2014.  Where this logic may fall down is McLaren can take a poor car and by season end have arguably the best car on the grid, Mercedes have yet to show this ability and moreso seem to fall back throughout a campaign.

The Brackley based team have however been quietly amassing an arsenal of technical minds amongst their ranks with most recently Mike Elliot previously of Lotus nee Renault joining them as head of Aerodynamics, with John Owen reshuffling to Technical Director.  They have Aldo Costa previously of Ferrari as Engineering director, Geoff Willis previously of RBR/HRT as technology director and Bob Bell as Technical Director (Although this is a position John Owen now holds so I'm unsure if Bell has been reshuffled) who has worked for McLaren, Bennetton, Jordan and Renault in all sorts of aero capacities. Ross Brawn oversees all of these as Team Principal. 

I think 2013 will be a difficult year for Mercedes and Lewis as they try to adapt to each others styles, it is however an opportunity for them to build their 2014 challenger around their new star.


  1. Great article, very informative and interesting.

  2. Mercedes will be supplying the engine and ERS in 2014.
    If any engine 'advantage' is to be found for Mercedes over its customers, it will be regarding the installation of the engine to the chassis, i.e. information received before the customers/rivals.

  3. Rules state 4MJ/lap is deployable via MGUK, but only 2MJ/lap is recoverable via MGUK. Trick is finding where to get the extra 2MJ/lap from!

  4. The previous lap... Same rule has been in existence since KERS has been in use ;)

  5. Fascinating and very well informed article, thank you. I can't help wondering though if any of these factors were in Lewis' management team when they were negotiating the deal. My real wish is that Hamilton had placed his formidable talent in the hands of people who understood and loved motor racing more than money or brand. It might all turn out alright, my guess is that from now on Perez's career will be more interesting than Lewis'.


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