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Mercedes outline biggest changes to their F1 engine since 2014

Mercedes engine boss Hywel Thomas has outlined the extent of the challenge that his department faced preparing the 2022 power units.

Formula 1's sweeping new regulation changes for 2022 may be mainly focused on the cars themselves, but there have been significant challenges for the engine manufacturers for the upcoming season as well. While the engine formula itself has not changed, a mandatory switch to a new sustainable E10 fuel, along with an upcoming design freeze that will lock the engine performance in place for the next four years, has resulted in frantic efforts from the engine manufacturers. As a result, significant changes to the architecture of the power units has been required for 2022, as the manufacturers push to upgrade and tweak their offerings ahead of the homologation date on 1 March.

2022 power unit have biggest changes since 2014

Hywel Thomas, Managing Director of Mercedes' engine department High Performance Powertrains, has outlined the extent of the challenge that engine manufacturers have faced over recent months. He revealed that the changes for 2022 have been the biggest since 2014, the very start of the current hybrid era. "For 2022, it has been a wide and deep project, and we have changed more parts of the PU (power unit) for this year than in any season since 2014," Thomas said at the launch of Mercedes' W13 on Friday. "Because it's been such a significant change, we modified our overall approach to design and development; we started earlier and had more points along the journey, where we could experiment with some of our technologies. "The project we took on for 2022 was large, and it is a very broad upgrade across the different elements, to get every last bit of performance, efficiency and reliability. "There are also some FIA-imposed measurements, particularly in the ERS system, that we had to accommodate as well."

Close collaboration between chassis and engine departments

The huge changes to the cars for 2022 has resulted in intense collaboration between the two departments that oversee the development of a new F1 machine. While Thomas' side deals with the power unit, he explained that a very close relationship with the chassis department is essential to ensure the package is as refined as possible for the new season. "The chassis team have been working very diligently and swiftly through the new regulations, so they can understand where the opportunities lie, and which areas are lap time sensitive," he said. "We make changes to the PU, that allow the chassis team to best exploit the regulations. We might want to rearrange the installation slightly or change the PU layout to get more flexibility in those lap time sensitive areas. "The other side of this is we never really know how much performance, in terms of chassis performance, we are going to find. We have some very good simulation tools and, of course, we use those to make estimates of where the chassis will end up, but we don't know for sure. "That means we won't really know precisely how the PU will need to be used and the way it needs to react while out on track, until we are running on the circuit."

Customer teams play a crucial part to furthering engine development

Mercedes' customer teams, McLaren, Aston Martin and Williams, have also played a role in the development path taken for the new power unit. "Naturally, we also work closely with our customer teams," Thomas added. "The great thing about that is, we have additional sets of very talented engineers looking at the regulations and seeing opportunities in the way the PU is installed in the chassis, the way the PU is laid out to help them work on the chassis. "The collaboration with Brackley (the factory team) is at a different level, but the customer teams do have an important input, and this all helps make the PU better."

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