April 23, 2014

Mercedes Power: more than just a split turbo.

With time, more of the secrets giving Mercedes AMG their undeniable advantage are gleamed.
When the split turbo strategy first came to light, some "in the business" we discussed the subject with were not convinced it alone was enough to explain the performance gap.  The big advantage for the Mercs, they argued, is in their energy store charging strategy which allows them to not have to coast at the end of the straights to recover energy, like Renaults for example  ("please match he beeps"  remember that radio message to Daniel Ricciardo?).  If that's not enough, the Mercedes unit also has an advantage in drivability and power.

These two characteristics would seem to be incompatible: If Merc is not coasting, they must get a lot of their charge from the MGU-H,  so a big turbo.  But a big turbo means turbo lag and more energy spent trying to spin it when it is being driven.    And it is here that it's thought Andy Cowell and the team in Brackley came up with another brilliant engineering detail.

According to ex Ferrari engineer Claudio Lombardi in an interview on SkySportsF1 Italy, Mercedes have in place a system which can momentarily de-couple the turbine side from the compressor side.  This allows the compressor to be free of the resistance of the turbine when it is being driven by electric power, making it more responsive when delivering power on corner exit.    

The advantages of a small turbo while using a big turbo to produce more power and energy.



  1. I said it some time ago:

    Mercedes, as an industrial manufacturer, have the depth of systems mgmt to sort out efficiency routes in this area. They had the mad boffins spitball the crazy ideas until they congealed into this drivetrain 2+ yeas ago and sorted out the fine details, much like Renault was said to have done with the ECU previous years to produce the blown diffuser effect, with the minor exception that the Merc teams were creating power and efficiency instead of just downforce via heated gas discharge.

    This is where large manufacturers have the advantage - they have years of experience eliminating elements that simply waste energy in the process. Advanced programming simulations ran through the permutations (much like race day strategies) and identified the most efficient methods to recover and utilize the power generated by basic ICE physics.

    One wonders what might happen if Honda or Toyota stepped up to the challenge, given their endurance platforms and literal budget.

  2. Also, I'd put that lump on a pedestal with spotlighting and maybe a privacy screen nearby if I could afford it. Bow-chica wow-wow.

  3. Honda is joining next year as just an engine supplier. Should be very interesting.

  4. People can say what they want about the new engines, but you cannot argue the fact that this kind of thing directly affects the development of road car engines for the better. Brilliant.


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