Mercedes engine boss says power units will not be dominant factor in 2014
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Oct 2013   |  9:56 am GMT  |  253 comments

Mercedes engine boss Andy Cowell says the new 1.6 litre turbo engines, which will be introduced next year, will not be the dominant factor – however he does expect there to be more of a difference between rival power units compared to this year.

Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault will supply units to teams next year, with Cosworth leaving the sport at the end of 2013. The new units, which will have more relevance to road cars, will replace the current V8s.

“I think we could see more of difference across the power units next year,” Cowell told the October edition of the JA on F1 Podcast “The FIA were keen that those who were down on power in the 2008-era were permitted the opportunity to do performance upgrades to narrow the gap. Now there is a chance for a spread in reliability and performance capability.

“However, there will be a big spread in terms of aerodynamics, too, and a spread on the tyres so it will all add up and go into the melting pot. I don’t think the power unit will be the dominant factor. I think they will wrap together and we’ll see varied racing.”

With such a big regulation change, Cowell says it is inevitable that there will reliability issues. “There’s a good chance the reliability will be a bigger factor next year than this year,” he said. “We have got new technology introduced in all areas of the power unit. There is also a change in the sporting regulations where instead of eight engines per driver per year, they will need to use just five.

When asked whether teams will be able to get through a season using just five engines, JA on F1 technical advisor Mark Gillan said: “I will be surprised if it’s achieved. Engine manufacturers have spent a lot of time and money looking at reliability.

“But the teams are also looking at drivability of these cars and looking at them in the simulators to see how to best eek out fuel through the race. They may have different requirements in terms of mapping and that will impact on the drivability and reliability.”

If teams can’t make five engines last across the season, there will be penalties of varying degrees depending on the type of failure. Gillan added: “For viewers, it’ll be difficult to understand the penalty system. A lot of effort has gone into trying to get fair penalties through via a rating system whereby if a part of the engine fails, it might be a two-place grid penalty but if the complete engine fails, it might be five.”

Next season KERS will be replaced by ERS (energy recovery system). Cowell said: “It will recover energy from two sources – the kinetic energy from the car under braking and the heat energy left in the exhaust stream through a turbine wheel into an electric motor.

“The two sources of energy will be stored in a battery pack which is approximately 10 times the capacity of the battery packs we’re using today with Kers. Around 4MJ can be deployed, which is over 34 seconds that it can be deploying. That is a significant percentage of the time when drivers want full power. It will contribute over two seconds of lap time.”

The other key challenge for teams will be fuel efficiency, as they will be limited to 100kg of fuel for the race. That’s a reduction of 60kg from this season.

“The 100kg for the race was chosen as an aggressive target,” said Cowell. “We’ve got a 35% reduction. That’s why we have introduced turbo chargers, which is the single biggest piece which is giving us the efficiency improvement.”

You can hear more Mark Gillan and Andy Cowell in the October edition of the JA on F1 podcast, click play below. It also features interviews with Caterham owner Tony Fernandes, four-time world champion Alain Prost, legendary commentator Murray Walker and FIA presidential candidate David Ward. (Cowell is at 28m 25)

No player? Download the podcast directly.

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

The question is, are you only allowed one exhaust pipe or can you split the pipe at the very end but still only have one exit from the engine (like the 1980’s ferraris)


Just heard an audio of the Honda F1 engine on Granted, it was through a Macbook but it sounded a little, shall we say ‘chainsaw-ish.’


Yeah, sounds very disappointing. There’s no bite at all.

The Nissan GTR sounds much ballsier.


Makes me wonder how the Ferrari engine would sound like?

They (Ferrari) sure can’t wait too long with their engine? Especially as their customer teams ought to be designing their 2014 cars right now …


Will the engines be rev-limited?


Yes, of course! *Nothing is not limited by FIA lawyers these days.

BTW JPM back to IndyCars!


Yep, to 15,000 rpm if I remember right.


Yes, but the fuel flow is capped at 10.5k rpm, even though the max rev limit is 15k rpm.


Maybe, but the turbo will spin at around 125,000rpm.



Not sure if it is too late to get your thoughts…

Are you able to explain the weight and performance changes for next year. We seem to be upping the minimum DRY weight by about 65kg, but reducing the max fuel weight by a similar amount, so I assume total weight will be comparable to this year (say upto 10kg more given driver weight issues).

So for the same total weight including fuel (at start of race) the ERS system will make up some of the performance lost from reduction in engine size.

But by the end of the race these cars will be HEAVIER than this year and with both ERS problems (over heating issues, etc in the early races) and fuel shortages we are likely to see much slower lap times for the final laps?


The minimum weight is ex fuel, I belive. If not the increase would not be an increase…


4 Years back at the IAA in Frankfurt an engineer showed me how to win energy from engine heat with exchangers (not generators). But early models were at 1% useful win, 3-4% would have been needed to make it an alternativ for highend cars and 7-8% to be cost effectiv for mass series i remember.


Artificial rules made by bipedal carbon-based humanoids are no problem for an extraterrestial being who designs spaceships with wheels.

Perhaps ET will pulse the rotation speed of the generator fan in the exhaust. Controlled pulsing of the exhaust gases could manipulate the airstream behind a car?


If nothing else it might help him phone home.


James Regarding ERS, Am I correct in thinking that it will not be controlled by the driver pushing a button as KERS is & will & will instead kick-in automatically when the driver accelerates?

I’ve also seen it reported that this along with the turbo boost will see an increase in low-end torque which will make the cars trickier to drive exiting corners, If true im looking forward to that.

Also to people who seem to think V6 turbo’s will not be fast & won’t be good to watch, Indycar now uses the same engine formula & there still doing 230mph at Indy & the racing has been better that its ever been before.


The main performance issue is the fuel flow limit and fuel tank limit.


>>Also to people who seem to think V6 turbo’s will not be fast & won’t be good to watch, Indycar now uses the same engine formula & there still doing 230mph at Indy & the racing has been better that its ever been before.<<

Also instructive to realize Mr Luyendyk set the current absolute lap record at 239+ back in the 90's with a V8(gasp)Cosworth.


I had not heard that but as its 34 seconds per lap, there will be a real art to using it


Until the speed is high, there is a space for downforce. They will use nanotech to change the shape of the body for better downforce. It could be done via electeicity, temperature, air resistance.

We already have for years Head skies with chip inside. Depending on bending they are softer or stiffer. F1 will go further to change the shape for downforce. The pictures of the parked car and running one will be different.

If we don’t want that, limit the speed!


If its other than air resistance its a movable aero device and prohibited.


i loved the 80’s, but agree with previous poster that the golden era was the 70’s.

What i don’t like is that F1 is turning into endurance racing, what with engines and gearboxes that need to last so long, tyre management (else they go pop!) etc. Honestly, i could just as well watch sportscar racing – this year’s Le Mans was pretty good!Now we have added fuel management (admittedly also previously part of the regs when they were only allowed 195liters on the turbo monsters of the 80’s)

Costs are an issue, especially for smaller teams, but wouldn’t it be neat if we had something like a “split” engine formula…the top 3-5 teams to use the 1.6 turbo petrol with fuel limit (100kg), and the minions allowed to run say a hybrid turbodiesel (lower power output, more torque, more efficient..) with a slightly higher fuel allowance to enable them to run harder for longer…or let them run a NA V8/V10/V12…possibly an attempt to lure other engine manufacturers like Audi/VW (who by the way, nailed the WRC championship at thier 1st try with Seb Ogier).

Also James, why can we not allow teams to enter with customer chassis…let’s say next year Marrusia et al may run a customer chassis from RB or Mclaren or Ferrari, with thier own engine/ driver combo…

Ah, in an ideal world…engine wars, tyre wars, chassis wars and flat out balls to the wall RACING, instead of Driving Miss Daisy on crap tyres…


Many suspect that the top teams’ and Bernie’s agenda is the return of customer cars, hence the strategy Group in the FIA/FOM agreement which is just top teams plus Williams and Lotus as the floating 6th team


Does the turbo contribute solely to electrical energy production stored in a battery by the MGU-H, or is it an additional energy source to capturing the heat out of the exhaust? Seems like you couldn’t have both, so these Turbos are not like the old style road car and F1 ones….but perhaps I am wrong!


Apart from no waste gate and the addition of the Motor/generator (MGU-H) to the shaft they are very similar, instead of waste heat being dumped from the waste gate when boost isn’t required the generator loads the turbo up and charges the battery, The motor is able to run the turbo up to speed before the throttle is opened on acceleration so there will be very little turbo lag. driver control of these things will be paramount, as I understand it there will be limitations on ECU control. The MGU-K on the gearbox or engine crankshaft will be charging the battery on deceleration and adding to the engine power on acceleration,


You have a turbo engine. Then there is a motor/generator (MGUH) attached to the turbo to grab more exhaust energy. So it’s like a supercharged and turbo charged engine. It’s turbo compounding. The MGUH can directly transfer energy from the exhaust to the MGUK which adds it to the drivetrain, or it can be used to charge the batteries.


Thanks, Dren 🙂


Oh yes, I really hate the idea that F1 is road relevance. C’mon, gives us a break.


I agree, but the problem is that all the engine manufacturers would eventually leave.

On the other hand, Renault have a radio ad saying their F1 engines have something in common with their Kangoo van, so evidently they can spin a yarn whatever engines are in F1.


Yes, I get your point.


James, when will the list of teams be confirmed? knowing the consequence of the big jump in cost. Now I’m thinking, is Jean Todt good for FIA? I’m having doubts.


Good question. I’ll check

Tornillo Amarillo

It’s so exciting to see so many variables in the next year Championship, full of new rules, the new 1.6 litre turbo engine, the reliability, the new aerodynamic, and the tyres and… the same Champion 🙂


Were these guys McLaren moles?

I only have one hope: that the massive change in direction means these guy have no idea on how to oiptimize the next generation car design, and by being sat out fully until 2015 will get rusty and not bring too much RBR sauce to McLaren. The awesome RBR secrets must be protected! 🙂

If I was Marko I’d make Prodromou and this other unnamed guy design and redesign the lawn and front gardening layout at RBR HQ for the next 14 months! Give them a budget, have the lawn become the most aero efficient of all HQs! 🙂


“Moles” working on the lawn??

Good one!


Unless they’re all rubbish, the team with the most effective ERS will win the 2014 WCC. Pure driving skill per se will be secondary in importance to ability to stretch a litre of petrol.

With the 100 kg/hr ECU and the 100 kg fuel load limit, there will be few if any circuits where a car will be able to run at race pace for the full 305 km on dinosaur power alone. Apart the ERS gives them the extra endurance, they will run out of fuel before the finish.

Plus, 2014 ERS will account for near abouts 25% of a car’s total max horsepower figure, where for 2013 it’s closer to 10%. For 2013, KERS only is available for a squirt or two per lap, not even enough for continuous use the longest straightaway at any circuit now in use. 2014 ERS, OTOH, can be available at every corner exit on every circuit or for continuous use over the longest straightaways in F1.

So 2014 will be a fuel economy contest, and the teams that dominate will be the ones that get the most assistance from the motor that needs no petrol.


Areas where RBR is weak at the moment

The Spanish Inquisitor

The 100 litres limit is the key. My prediction is: Ferrari will be at the front of the grid in the beginning of the next season, and will dominate the first four races. After this, Vettel will complain that he can’t go faster due to fuel restrictions. Then the limit of fuel will be raised to 118 litres and he will win all the races till the end of the season.

I’m obsessed with conspiracy theories.


One thing it will definitely do is shake up the order a bit, with several uncertainties. And after the Pirelli fix post Silverstone leading to a predictable Vettel dominance, I think we can all agree that it’s good for F1.

Of course, I also have the reservations about the sound of the engine, sounds too sportscar like, which is not what F1 is.


Hi James,

Is the new engine still controlled by the throttle? Or is the power now fully controlled by the ECU (for fuel efficiency)?


Drive by wire, now and then.

Valentino from montreal

Even if Mercedes produce the best engine next year, it does’nt guarantee them success ..

It takes more than just an “engine” to make a car super competetive ..

Williams BMW had the most powerful engine in the early 2000’s but no title since 1997 …

Benetton’s 1994 Ford engine was’nt on an equal footing vs Renault’s engine of Williams and we know who the title that year and it was’nt Neweys machine ..

Aerodynamics is what makes the car win championships ..


Actually whilst Schumacher won the drivers championship in 94 with Benetton, Williams won the constructors title that year.


So if Schumi can beat Newey cars why can’t Alonso? I tell ya its a lad called Vettel! The real next messiah, 1 that has Alonso pulling his hair out.


No Jesus is the Messiah.


After much experimentation the teams have found that putting a driver in their car also has some benefit.


Around 34 seconds of boost per lap? Sounds too much but I look forward to seeing it in action next year.


Looking forward to them yeah? Lol they can barely hit 200mph now apart from Monza think what it’ll be like next year droning around saving fuel in 500bhp mode.


James a good podcast but you said Prost and Senna became teammates in 1998 when in fact it was 1988. I thought I would point out this little mistake.


I’m more worried that the change in regs will end up with one team getting it just right, and then completely dominating in a way that makes Red Bull look amateurish…

Or that the field spread will go back to something crazy like 6 seconds a lap…

Not sure that’s what the ‘sport’ needs. Green credentials are one thing, but people tune in to watch close racing (even if it is behind first place recently!).


Merc and Ferrari are bound to be very close


No matter what pans out, we’ll still have Kimi V Fernando!


Oooh yea!


Can’t wait! F1 is a hi-tech formula.

If I wanted some spec racing, I’d

head south, to The States.

Looking forward to new engines.

Not much of a power loss (for now),

and an exciting sound. Makes me

dream of the good old days of the

early 80’s and the turbo scream.

And, the uncertainty of the new

engine and chassis designs might

shake up the grids and results.

Whether due to reliability or

execution. Andy happy! 🙂


lol It may have escaped your notice when IndyCars raced in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal?


Oh. And, as kids? My wee brother and Paul

Tracey played hockey together. Parents used to make me drive them when it was their turn.

Even then, Paul was a fatty.


Funny, that. Did marshalling, timing and scoring, and pit marshalling in Toronto.

Always had the ‘hot-pink’ passes. These were hot passes; they allowed track access during on track action. Most marshalls do not get them.

You are correct, though. Mind, I only worked those races to be at the F-Atlantic races.

And, IndyCars are an American series.


How is it that limiting the available engines to 5 per year will limit costs. Isn’t it engine development that costs the most afterwhich the cost of production of each unit shouldn’t be so astronomical.


If you allow one engine per race, the manufactures will continuously iterate on their engines all season long. That gets to be expensive.


It doesn’t. 2013-spec Cosworth engines cost €61,000. A 2014 engine lease will be in the neighborhood of €21M. For that much money, a team could buy a spanking-new Cosworth for every time a wheel is turned in anger — every free practice, every qualy, and every race — plus throw in an even dozen per driver for track testing, and they’d still be ~€7M to the good of a 2014 engine lease.


How are the new engine units more relevant to road cars? The number of pistons is where the similarities begin and end. In fact, the technology required to produce 800 bhp out of a 1.6 L V6 must be out of this world. So, the F1 V8’s currently in use are probably closer to road car engines.


Motor vehicle manufacturers around the world are tending towards turbocharged, smaller-capacity engines that use less fuel and smarter technology to generate the same power and greater fuel efficiency that traditional naturally-aspirated, larger-capacity units.

That’s your connection to F1 – the ‘story’ is the same (if not the actual technology involved).

Marketing cars (or anything really) to the general population is about stories, not details. Enthusiasts / boffins / geeks in every market know the advertising blurbs are bollocks, but Joe Public neither knows nor cares.


Well, Wade, you are what we like to call:


BTB, here is what I drive:

(I have the better wheels).

Here is what I used to drive:

Owned three from new (I used to be rich).

Turbos. Superchargers, and electrics.

All from the eighties or nineties.

Imagine what the GP teams and manufacturers

are up to?

Wow, son, you shall be driving something

from Williams or McLaren in five years.


If what you say is correct, an engine unit should not cost a couple million dollars, and yet it does. So, assuming you are correct in how ‘standard’ these engines are, the only possible conclusion one can draw is that F1 teams are being ripped off by many hundreds if not thousands of times what would be a fair price to pay for such an engine. If it was so basic, teams may as well buy a Suzuki Swift, take it’s engine and whack a massive turbo on it. Since they are paying gargantuan sums of money to manufacturers for specifically designed engine units, it’s probably a little more involved.

If Formula 1 used engines also available in standard model road cars, then the argument of relevance would actually have some traction. I don’t know for certain but I do not think there is even a Ferrari road car available that is powered by the Ferrari V8 used by the Scuderia.



Racing technologies trickle down
to road cars. That is the main
reason manufacturers get involved.

The teams are not using current
road-car technology. They are
creating road car technology that
shall be found in five years, and
common in ten.


Please don’t attack other posters. If you persist we’ll simply delete your whole comment. Thanks – Mod


Well you know ol’ 3-car Monte only wants V12’s!


Not at all, new 1.6L turbo setup is VERY conservative.


The BMW engines used in F1 during the 1980s used standard road car engine blocks, and they were hardly low on power. Didn’t they win a few races?


the old Beemer blocks were actually 2nd hand production car blocks. it was belived that road use had “tempered” the metal in order to withstand the amounts of boost they were running. It was belived BMW were getting 1600bhp from them…and were overfueling them (generating smoke under acceleration) in order to keep them cool enough

Correct me if i’m wrong, but BMW nailed the Champinships with Brabham in ’81 and ’83 with Nelson Piquet…and they won plenty races


Good ole’ Gordon Murray.


No actually getting 600hp from a 1.6 turbo charged V6 is actually quite easy compared to getting 750hp from a N/A 2.4 V8, this is fact ask anyone, these engines are restricted so much otherwise 2000 or even 3000hp would be achievable, with the current engines even without a rev limiter 1000hp would be hard to achieve.


That’s what I’m expecting from just the turbo unit, around 600hp, due to the fuel limitations.


OK, argument accepted. What’s with the price-tag of these new units then?


Thats actually greed imo.

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