Mercedes would agree to simplified engine set-ups from 2026 in order to attract Volkswagen to the Formula 1 grid. The statement came from Mercedes F1 boss, Toto Wolff, on the weekend that a crucial meeting took place surrounding new engine regs.
The discussion involved members of F1 Management, FIA Officials, and representatives from existing and potential engine manufacturers, including Volkswagen.
Formula One’s Turbo-Hybrid power unit has been in place since 2014. It includes two critical systems, called the MGU-H and MGU-K. The proposed simplification involves dropping the MGU-H element of the current power units. The MGU-H (Motor Generator Unit-Heat) is what recovers and stores energy to and from the turbocharger. The MGU-K is what stores kinetic energy from braking and deploys it to the wheels.
As an increasing number of automakers move away from internal combustion engines, the new power unit is key to ensuring that Formula One stays relevant.
According to Motorsport, the Mercedes F1 Boss said that the removal of the MGU-H was a compromise, but would be made if it would help bring VW into the sport. “I can’t speak for anybody else, but at Mercedes, we are prepared to enter in order to facilitate the entry of the Volkswagen Group. But there are several other topics where compromise needs to be found.”
The Volkswagen Group was reportedly represented in the power unit discussion by two of its brands – Audi and Porsche. Formula One has embraced hybrid-tech, but a switch to all-electric power, as what most road cars are undergoing, would undeniably alter the fabric of the sport. Instead, the series has staked its future on biofuels.
This year’s cars run a 5.75 percent blend of biofuel, with that formulation increasing to 10 percent (aka E10) next year. The plan is to switch to a third-generation biofuel, also known as e-fuel, by 2030. A move such as this may tempt Porsche, who we know are already experimenting with their own e-fuel racing program.
Porsche has previously expressed interest in entering Formula 1, with the German company going so far as to build an engine that would have complied with the 2021 regulations. It would appear that when they were considering the entry, the MGU-H was once again a sticking point for the VW group brand who had hoped that the component would be dropped from the power units.
With Honda departing the sport at the end of 2021, Formula 1 will be left with only three engine suppliers that make road cars: Mercedes, Ferrari, and Renault. Red Bull will be a fourth engine manufacturer, who will take over Honda’s facilities, but it’s unclear how their technology may translate into a production model.
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