Rival teams fear huge Mercedes power boost
Non-Merc teams pushed for the in-season engine freeze to be lifted, but now worry it will let Mercedes get even further ahead
Mercedes’ rivals have disclosed their growing concern that they may be unable to close the gap to the world champions for 2015. The 2014 Mercedes F1 W05 Hybrid owed its success to the remarkable integration of the best of the new breed of turbo hybrid V6 engines with a chassis that was at least as good as the best produced by any other team.
But their rivals’ main concerns focus on the progress Mercedes may make with their power unit. Mercedes’ engine is already at least 40bhp more powerful and fuel efficient than rival units from Renault and Ferrari, and sources say Mercedes have found at least another 50bhp on their 2015 engine package.
And even with the recently won freedom to develop engines during the season rather than only over the winter, rivals are concerned the gap to Mercedes is now too big to close.
As one senior gure put it: “If Mercedes bolt on another 60bhp, we’re fucked. We might nd that amount over the winter, but we’re not going to nd 120bhp, that’s for sure.”
McLaren have been quietly optimistic that their new Honda engine might be able to compete with the Mercedes, but that was before they realised Mercedes could potentially take such a significant step forward.
Insiders say the Honda power unit – which has yet to run for more than few laps – is almost as powerful as the 2014 Mercedes engine. But that still leaves them 50bhp down on the 2015 Mercedes at a time when McLaren have a major chassis deficit to make up.
Part of the problem faced by Renault and Ferrari is that they have run out of time to produce the full-on redesign they had wanted to have ready for 2015. Both companies were designing their own version of the Mercedes engine, the key feature of which is the separation of the compressor from the turbo and its relocation at the front of the engine.
The advantages of this include: less inherent turbo lag, reduced cooling requirements for the inlet air, less packaging, and improved aerodynamics and weight distribution.
Honda have designed their engine this way, but Renault and Ferrari need until at least April , which is why they were agitating for a relaxation of the in-season engine freeze.
Mercedes’ engine was dominant in 2014, and they’re thought to have found another 50bhp over the winter, with more power on its way