Fuel changes the biggest since 2014, say Mercedes

Jamie Woodhouse
The Mercedes logo on its F1 car's halo. Russia, September 2019.

The halo and air box visible on a dark image of a Mercedes Formula 1 car. Russia, September 2019.

Mercedes see the switch to E10 fuel for the 2022 power units as the biggest engine regulation shift in the V6 turbo-hybrid era.

Since 2014, Formula 1 has gone racing with these power units, an era very much dominated by Mercedes, who have collected all eight Constructors’ Championships on offer as well as seven Drivers’ titles.

These V6 turbo-hybrid engines are expected to remain until 2026, at which point the new generation of power units are set to be rolled out.

That said, 2022 is the final opportunity to make major gains in the engine department as a freeze on development will then come into place once these versions are put into action.

While Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda are working to pack every drop of performance possible into their new engine, they have also had to do so while contending with the introduction of a new fuel.

Previously, 5.75% of the fuel used had to come from bio-components, but the new E10 fuel features 10% ethanol, a set requirement, whereas previously the manufacturers could choose the bio-components.

And this is no small change – in fact, Hywel Thomas, managing director of Mercedes High Performance Powertrains, believes this marks the most significant change yet for the turbo-hybrids.

Mercedes F1 nose and front wing. Abu Dhabi December 2021
Mercedes F1 nose and front wing. Abu Dhabi December 2021

“The change this year, going to the E10, is probably the largest regulation change we’ve had since 2014,” he said in a Mercedes YouTube video.

“It was a sizeable undertaking to make sure we really developed that fuel. The number of candidates we had, the single-cylinder running, the V6 running, it shouldn’t be underestimated how much work that took.

“The engine will react slightly differently to the fuel. Some areas of the performance we are really happy with and [there are] other areas where honestly we are less happy.”

Adding to the challenge is the fact that as well as the fuel, the cars themselves have also been designed to new regulations, which Mercedes’ chief technical officer James Allison believes represent the biggest change in F1 history.

And so Mercedes are expecting a different dynamic between the power unit and chassis.

 

“The 2022 car is very, very different. We know the aerodynamics are different and from all of the things we’ve been told, we believe the car will be doing slightly different things,” said Thomas.

“The requests from the drivers will be different as they go through the corners than in previous years.

“We’ve got simulations, we’ve done all of our calculations, modified the engine in the way the engine drives in order for us to be ready.

“We will be able to react for when the driver puts the power on in a slightly different way, perhaps in a slightly different time.

“Of course, we are absolutely desperate to get to the first track test so we can see if those simulations are correct.

“Hopefully they will be. If not, we will be ready to adjust the PU as necessary to make sure the driver gets exactly what they want when they ask for it.”

PlanetF1 Verdict

 

Mercedes: The biggest fuel changes since 2014

Mercedes see the switch to E10 fuel as being the biggest change to the engine regulations since the start of the turbo hybrid era.