Brix­worth’s land­mark en­gines

F1 Racing - - THE FEATURES -


Be­fore Mercedes-Benz bought into the com­pany, Il­mor made a low-key en­try into For­mula 1 with the 3.5-litre 2175A V10 en­gine, which pow­ered the Ley­ton House CG911 (left) in 1991. It wasn’t an es­pe­cially com­pet­i­tive car, but Ivan Capelli claimed the first points with an Il­mor en­gine by fin­ish­ing sixth in Hun­gary. For 1992 Il­mor also sup­plied Tyrrell, then moved ex­clu­sively to Sauber in 1993. Mercedes took a 25 per cent stake in the com­pany at the end of the year, and all Il­mor en­gines car­ried the Mercedes logo from then on.

FO 110E

Mercedes kicked Sauber into touch for 1995 and part­nered with McLaren, but it wasn’t un­til the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion 3-litre V10 ar­rived in 1997 that they started win­ning, with David Coulthard claim­ing the honours in the MP4/12 (left) at the sea­son-opener in Aus­tralia. But the FO 110E and its suc­ces­sor, the FO 110F, weren’t paragons of re­li­a­bil­ity: Coulthard and Häkki­nen each suf­fered four en­gine fail­ures dur­ing races, plus many more in prac­tice ses­sions. At the Lux­em­bourg GP, McLaren were in the run­ning for a one-two… un­til both en­gines failed.

FO 110H

Even as Mika Häkki­nen dom­i­nated the 1998 cham­pi­onship in the FO 110G-pow­ered McLaren MP4/13, Brix­worth were al­ready in the process of de­vel­op­ing the lighter, lower and much more pow­er­ful FO 110H. Häkki­nen would need it – the new MP4-14 (above) was an edgier car than its pre­de­ces­sor and a bit less re­li­able, which would mean the world cham­pi­onship would go down to the fi­nal race.

FO 110R

Hav­ing lost out in the power stakes to Fer­rari dur­ing the early 2000s, Brix­worth hit back with the fi­nal it­er­a­tion of the FO 110 fam­ily in 2005. Now pro­duc­ing over 900bhp and revving up to 19,500rpm, this ver­sion of the V10 was now re­li­able enough to last the manda­tory two races. In spite of the fragility of the MP4-20 (left), Kimi Räikkö­nen pushed Fer­nando Alonso hard – just miss­ing out on the driv­ers’ ti­tle.

FO 108W

It was all change for 2006 as Mercedes in­tro­duced the 2.4-litre V8 FO 108 fam­ily in line with the new en­gine regs. Along with a stan­dard ECU, ho­molo­ga­tion ar­rived in 2007 – the so-called ‘en­gine freeze’ – and a rev limit of 19,000rpm. Al­though both 2007 McLaren driv­ers fought for the ti­tle, which Lewis Hamil­ton won in 2008, per­haps Mercedes’ most dom­i­nant year was 2009 thanks to the Brawn BGP 001. The FO 108W, now capped at 18,000rpm, won ten out of 17 races, let­ting Hamil­ton take the first win for a hy­brid en­gine in the MP4-24 (above left).

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