Mercedes engine chief explains why switching to E10 fuel required a ‘fundamental overhaul’ of the power unit

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The 2022 rules not only revise the aerodynamic philosophy of Formula 1 cars, but the power units also undergo a significant change this year. And Mercedes High Performance Powertrains Managing Director Hywel Thomas explained exactly why the constructors’ champions worked just as hard on the engine side over the winter.

Mercedes’ last in a series of informative videos sees Thomas, who succeeded Andy Cowell in 2020sit back and talk about the major changes coming to power units in 2022. These changes include the implementation of E10 fuel – including 10% ethanol, which will reduce CO2 emissions overall – and a freeze on powertrain performance development from March 1.

“What we have with the opportunity with the new car is to fundamentally rethink things, and in a way that gives us more opportunities and that brings excitement, and that drives even more of the excitement. “Engineers’ imagination to do this. The installation is great,” said Thomas.

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Hywel Thomas took the helm of HPP in 2020

“The change in bio-content being ethanol means that the engine is going to react slightly differently to the fuel. Some aspects of the performance we are really happy with, and some…honestly, we are less happy.

“What we need to do is change the fuel where we can and change the PU material where we can to maximize the effect of the things we like and minimize the effect of the things we like. don’t like,” explained the head of the Brixworth-based engine makers.

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“The change this year to switch to E10 [fuel] is probably the biggest regulatory change we’ve had since 2014. So it was a massive undertaking to make sure that we really developed this fuel and… don’t underestimate the amount of work that has gone into asked,” he said.

The aforementioned engine freeze, combined with the aerodynamic changes, means that Mercedes HPP (and of course rival manufacturers Renault, Ferrari and Red Bull Powertrains) have to recondition their power units to match the new cars.


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The 2022 F1 showcar with Mercedes’ 2021 livery

“With 2022 being a completely new chassis… There are areas on the car that will be very sensitive to lap times and there are other areas on the car that are less sensitive. What we are trying to do on the PU , it’s to make sure we stay as far away from sensitive areas as possible to give car designers as much flexibility as possible, and to wrap parts of the PU in areas where there’s less sensitivity.

“That means working hand in hand with the chassis department, with all those engineers, to make sure the PU fits exactly where it needs to, to make sure we can create the fastest overall package.” , said Thomas.

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“So with the new fuel, the performance freeze of PU in the season and the all new car, all new aerodynamics and the integration of PU into the interior, there is a huge challenge for everyone. involved, especially teaming up in HPP,” he concluded.

We’ll see evidence of Mercedes’ efforts on the track in Barcelona from February 23-25 ​​- following the launch of their W13 car on February 18 – as they aim to achieve a Constructors’ Championship record for the ninth consecutive this season.

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