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The image above is a screenshot from a Mercedes-Benz video illustrating the workings of the power unit in its current Formula One challenger, the F1 W05. We're looking at the back of the engine, the exhaust-driven turbocharger in the foreground connected to the compressor via a fluted tube that is the heat-based energy recovery system, the ERS-H, that can be used to power the turbo. Except this isn't what the engine looks like.

As first discussed in a video by F1 technical blogger Craig Scarborough, then further explained in a video by Sky Sports, perhaps the single biggest development in the Mercedes power unit is that the turbocharger and the compressor sit on opposite sides of the engine; the turbo still sits at the back, but the compressor is at the front of the 1.6-liter V6 and the two are connected by a long shaft that runs through the engine's vee. Locating the compressor away from the turbo allows cooler, denser air to enter the engine, providing more power, and shortens the length of ducting necessary to get the air from the compressor through the intercooler and into the cylinders, meaning less turbo lag. The Sky report also suggests the arrangement lowers the temperature at the rear of the car, meaning the gearbox can be moved closer to the engine to improve balance, and has other benefits such as allowing smaller sidepods and more efficient use of the ERS-H.

Scarborough tweeted a line drawing of the concept, and someone else managed to snap a photo of the slightly obscured compressor on an actual engine. If the images from Ferrari and Renault Sport are to be believed then neither uses the same layout, even though the Magneti Marelli turbo that Ferrari uses did, at one time, place the ERS-H unit between the turbo and the compressor. There is certainly more to Mercedes AMG Petronas dominance than this one trick, but if it's a major contributor then the competition will have to find another way to challenge it: the engines are homologated for the year.

You can check out the two video explanations below, with the relevant matter coming at 5:20 in the Scarborough video.






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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 20 Comments
      snap_understeer_ftw
      • 8 Months Ago
      geekness overload
      Ryan
      • 8 Months Ago
      Kudos to MB for coming up with a clever solution that has yielded HUGE dividends. I am sure they are also relieved that this information broke after the deadline for engine modifications.
      Frisky_Dingo
      • 8 Months Ago
      This is kinda old news, but cool nonetheless. Those other teams have got a lot of catching up to do right now.
      Vassilis Alex
      • 8 Months Ago
      Kudos for giving credit to Scarborough.
      Jason
      • 8 Months Ago
      1: Magneti Marelli is not the turbo maker. Honeywell is. I believe that Mr. Montezemelo's huffy remarks leaving a recent GP were directed at them. MM may supply the energy recovery and power control portion of the system. 2: there may be no shaft between the compressor and turbine at all. I'm not sure if the regs allow it, but it's conceivable that the compressor is only powered by the same motor generator as the ERS. I'm curious to know more about this if anyone with knowledge could share. I thought the video's misleading graphics were pretty sneaky and got a kick out of that. Mercedes actually released a photo of their engine more than a year before the start of the season. On top of wondering why they would place that heavy mass up high, I thought "why would they do that?" (Show their engine so long in advance, in a secretive world of F1). Answer: red herring. Further: I believe this is the primary reason why Lewis Hamilton confidently left the best at McLaren. I'm certain MB knew the game plan and also the specific advantage that they would have. There are only a handful of credible turbo engineers capable of supporting F1 demands and I would guess that it was well known that MB were on a unique path to a distinct design advantage. I recall wondering "why would he do that?" when he left Macca for a fledgling MB team in 2013. The answer: checkmate on the new regs, before the first pawn moved. It's game. set. match. for the 2014 crown. Kudos to them but I hope the others can implement competitive updates to make 2015 competitive.
      torque996
      • 8 Months Ago
      Is it just me, or does Mclaren's implementation of the turbo look downright primitive compared to MB's?
        rsxvue
        • 8 Months Ago
        @torque996
        They both utilize the same engine. Does/can the factory team run a different layout than it's customers?
      Johnny the Monkey
      • 8 Months Ago
      Awesome info. I thought Lewis was nuts to jump to the Silver Arrows..turns out to be a brilliant move. Really surprised that McLaren or Red Bull did not think of this.
      keet
      • 8 Months Ago
      Wow, wonderful vision F1! So, if a team comes up with some technical engine advantage (kudos to Mercedes), because of the engine freeze, we get to watch said team run away with the championship all season? Bravo F1, well done... yawn
      Bernard
      • 8 Months Ago
      Nice, and F1 tech that can actually benefit road cars.
        Shahul X
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Bernard
        Seriously... how has nobody ever thought of that before? I know Mercedes High Performance Powertrains (The F1 builder) did aid in the development of the new 2.0 355hp turbo(26psi) 4 cylinder engines in the CLA/GLA/A 45 AMGS's
          normc32
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Shahul X
          I was thinking likewise. But how much would the lightest shaft weigh and could the means supporting the shaft make 300,000 miles f Before over hauling like modern day turbos?
        Rotation
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Bernard
        The shaft will make turbo spooling slower and generally waste energy. This is not an application likely to make it to a street car. It's fine when your engine runs at revs between 10K and 15K. But if you fall to idle, it's a big liability.
      ihatedavebushell
      • 8 Months Ago
      This has been done many times before, but the issue has always been that the shaft weighs much much more than the typical exhaust and compressor wheels connected on a very very short shaft, so the momentum required to spin a long shaft was huge and the turbo lag was counted in seconds or more. The interesting part of this is how is Mercedes connecting the 2 halves of the turbo that are 2 feet apart from each other so that they don't add a long heavy shaft that causes the turbo to spool up very slowly - it is probably less of an issue as the turbo is probably almost always spooled, but still there seems to be something extra interesting going on there or they would be getting killed at the start.
        404 not found
        • 8 Months Ago
        @ihatedavebushell
        The MGU-H (I think) helps spin up the turbo and "fills" in the gap created by turbo lag.
      PatrickH
      • 8 Months Ago
      Like Dingo said, this isn't new news.
      ScottT
      • 8 Months Ago
      I thought (and I could be wrong) that the biggest reason for Mercedes current engine dominance had more to do with reliability. Mercedes were more reliable at the higher revs and were actually using the full 15K mandated maximum rev limit, while Ferrari and Renault were limiting their engines around 12K because of the lack of high rpm reliability.
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