Mercedes Formula One team has been continuously setting the standard in terms of engine, team and driver performances over the past two seasons. They set the tone in 2014 introducing the hybrid engines which was followed by Ferrari last season, giving Mercedes a tough fight.
Andy Cowell, Mercedes team boss however stated that the team is not running out of ideas to improve their engines at time soon. He said, “We have made some good gains over the past two years. I do not see that stopping. I do not think anybody here sees that we have reached the limit”.
Infact, the inspiration for innovation in the Formula One sport comes from being able to use the same technology directly in road cars. Mercedes follow this principle very diligently. Cowell admits that the gains in thermal efficiency and how much the engine fuel is really converted into power from the engine has been successfully developed in F1 and later implemented in their road cars.
The Mercedes engine prior to 2013 had a thermal efficiency of around 29% which was same as the road-going petrol engine while it was around 38% in a road-car diesel engine. If we have to compare that with the Mercedes engine after the introduction of the turbo-hybrids, they are around 45% now.
The significant increase in the thermal efficiency is being now directly transferred to the road cars now however they aim to increase to greater than 50%. The target for Mercedes is to generate greater efficiency through the rear axle.
Cowell, “Where we are at with our thermal efficiency is mind-blowing when you step back and look at it. And if we can apply that to the road car world without losing that high efficiency it will be tremendous”.
The big problem pointed by Andy was that the difference in the road-car cycle is different to what drivers do in F1 cars. The cars on road are not driven to their limits every time and the stresses are also low on the engine as well. That is where the team is facing a challenge currently.