F1 V6 turbos are more powerful than V8s or V10s says, Mercedes’ engine boss
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  27 Nov 2015   |  1:31 pm GMT  |  173 comments

Formula 1’s V6 turbo power units are now more powerful than the previous V8 and V10 engines, according to Mercedes’ engine boss Andy Cowell.

Speaking ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Cowell explained that being able to use the Electrical Recovery System (ERS) combined with the 1.6 litre engine for a full lap, make the current engines more powerful than the previous V8s. Those engines could only use a Kinetic Energy Recovery (KERS) system for a limited amount of time per lap.

Andy Cowell

He said: “If [you] just look at the internal combustion engine, then today’s V6 1.6 litre turbo-charged engine is approximately the same power as the V8 engine was.

“Both of those ran a hybrid system and if you add the KERS system onto the V8 and the ERS system onto the V6, and look at their maximum power values, then today’s V6 with ERS is 10 per cent more powerful than we had with the V8 and the KERS system.

“The ERS system is available for the majority of the lap; the KERS system was only available for 6.7 seconds of the lap, so in terms of laptime, impact of the V6 and ERS, is significantly greater than we had with the V8 and KERS system.”

Kimi Raikkonen

Cowell added that the current V6 power units are now producing more power than the V10 engines, which were last used in F1 in 2005 and hold most of the lap records at circuits still on the calendar from that era, and are almost twice as efficient.

He said: “If you look at the total power that we’ve got today and compare it with the V10, and the last few races of the V10 era, we have more power than we had at the end of the V10 era.

“If you look at the fuel flow rate of the V10 era, it was over 190kgs an hour, 194kgs an hour, and today we’re at 100kgs an hour. [It’s] the same power, [with] about half the fuel flow rate, which is a phenomenal change in terms of efficiency of the power unit, as we now call it.”

Lewis Hamilton

Cowell explained that the impressive power levels produced from a comparatively small internal combustion engine in 2015 have been further increased by developments in other areas of the power unit.

He said: “[It’s been] incredible improvements of efficiency, incredible absolute power levels from this this little, diminutive 1.6 litre internal combustion engine – it’s kicking out an awful lot of power.

“That’s been done with great combustion technology, fuel injectors, turbo charger development, all the electrical system development – electrical machines to allow the waste energy flow from the exhaust system to be utilised rather than just blown done the exhaust system – and working very closely on all the fine details.”

The head of Mercedes’ AMG powertrains noted that the power produced by the current engines was high alongside, despite the severe penalties for using more than the allowed number of components.

Lewis Hamilton

He said: “To be matching the V10 era, where there some restrictions right at the end on how long they had to last, but compared to that it’s phenomenal durability requirements now with, with uncomfortable grid penalties if you’re out to win a championship. I think this is the most powerful power unit that we can produce.”

Cowell also explained that there is still scope for much further development of the current engines due to further advances in efficiency and energy recovery systems.

He said: “It starts with the combustion process, it starts with that initial release, but then it’s what else can you recover from the system and use the turbine to recover what’s going down the exhaust pipe.

“[It’s] how efficient you make the compressor so the power doesn’t drop, how efficient you make the MGU-H so the energy that that recovers is not squandered, how low friction can you make the V6 and all the all the ancillaries so that you’re not squandering all the power than has been created it. It’s many, many systems that are being developed.”

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How stupid have we become to except Race car’s saving fuel??!!Really?!Racing is about going fast and burning fuel.20 thousand race cars on the planet are4 not going to pollute the world.Formula 1 should have made sure all planes,ship’s,are energy efficient.Manuel Gear boxes,v6 and up.Big tires and small wing’s.Boom!I am a Genius’s?Or maybe i just have common sense?


The reason we arent seeing any lap records being broken is because of the elephant in the room, power to weight.

While the hybrid motors may be as powerful as V10s or V8s, they are certainly a whole bunch heavier and that is their achilles heel.

They need to be closer in power to weight ratio to the 2003-2005 cars to have a chance at breaking lap records.

Make ’em lighter, make ’em faster !!


All very interesting, but unfortunately what has been lost along with the sound is the spectacle. They have pretty much over-engineered and clinically neutered the beast that was F1.

I have to confess I have grown to like the growl of the new V6s and they are interesting technologically. But every so often I will see a video from the V8 or V10 era and I am absolutely slapped in the face..wow..just wow.

Even when the race was dull, the car was not. How else do you explain a crowd of fans to watch single lap qualifying. The car itself was as much of the spectacle as the racing. F1 seems to have forgotten that.


Maybe they are more powerful but the problem is they don’t look more powerful, the old v10s looked and sounded ridiculously quick.


I was at the Abu Dhabi qualifying yesterday at the hairpin. Great corner to be on seeing the cars accelerate down the straight at full tilt. This was my first experience of the Hybrid units in person and i had mixed emotions. On one hand they are amazing pieces of technology. Hats off to those teams who have excelled and made them work.

On the other hand, i found myself comparing the sound to Silverstone a few years ago during the V8 Era. The best thing about Formula 1 is the atmosphere at the track. You feel involved in the sport in a way that you just cant watching on TV. The lack of noise takes away from that in my opinion. The cars were impressive, but the lack of sound was an issue. Hopefully next year the changes to the exhaust might make them a bit louder.

To put it into perspective, i stayed to watch the GP2 race after qualifying. The GP2 cars were much louder, popped and banged on gear changes, screaming away (albeit not to the extent the old V8’s did in F1) and it just brought the racing to life more.


It doesn’t seem like that big an achievement to me to build an engine as powerful as something that was built with much less advanced technology, and for a fraction of the cost, over 10 years ago.

And they try to proclaim it as the pinnacle of technology? Imagine in the world of technology if Apple or Microsoft made claims that their newest phone is now very slightly faster than the best phones of 2004, but at 5 times the cost. But, they would underline, it achieves that with a battery of half the size! Does that mean it is lighter and fits in your pocket better, people would ask? No, it is actually heavier and the same size, because of all the extra components in there to make it work with less energy input.

Using less fuel is a completely nonsense thing for the sport to chase at the cost of all else. When has a fan survey ever said “I wish the cars used less fuel”? To finally be more powerful than the V10s is one thing, but imagine how much more powerful the V10s would be with an extra 10+ years of development and new technology. And they’d get there at significantly less cost than the current engines.

Also, whenever people come out to praise these new engines, they only ever quote peak power. They don’t mention that the cars are now significantly heavier because of these power units. They don’t mention that that power is not always available and that some of the lap has to be spent harvesting power, or that braking is less efficient because of the harvesting element.

The laptimes have gotten significantly slower since these engines were introduced – people say that is all down to aero, and undoubtedly some of it is, but I am still very doubtful as to whether these engines could actually be faster around a racetrack than the V8s with all else being equal, because of all the compromises I mention above.



No one cares if there more powerful, a bus is more powerful than it was 10 years ago as well.

They are BORING!

Hybrid doesn’t work, it’s a false economy, it’s either full electric or nothing and guess what? We already have Formula E so why bother saving alittle fuel????

A diesel is much much more effective on a road car due to the road cars WEIGHT!


Twice as efficient, half as exciting.


This article sounds kinda interesting so I will come back and read it properly during the race probably between Lap 3 and the Chequered Flag as nothing much really happens in terms of actual racing during that phase.


Funny. Got me.


Is it possible to block Sebee’s comments? They’re driving me up the wall – so many blatantly false statements that completely miss the thrust of an article or another poster’s comment. It’s driving me insane and there’s literally not enough hours in the day to patiently set the record straight.


I’m going to guess that our views differ. I’d appreciate feedback on my points, which you feel are most inaccurate. I’ve done a bit of thinking on the subject and some research, I think I’m prepared to discuss.


Slippery slope. Can’t you just skip over the commenters you don’t like? I don’t agree with a lot of commenters on here. But that’s one of the reasons I come on this site. I’m interested in other f1fans’ views.


V12…v10…. And v8 will never ever be a part of formula one again.


Well then everyone’s in agreement:

If the engines could just be 17.659% more efficient, use 23.659% less fuel, produce 8.769% more kinetic energy, and recover 14.391% more braking energy, then F1 will be so much more exciting. In the range of 3.846% perhaps?

PS. Tongue is 87.477% firmly imbedded in cheek!


Bring back the V12 engines. I want people to get hemorrhages when the cars go past. As long as they can follow each other close, I’m happy and don’t care what’s in the back.

Good to see Lewis and Brundle speaking up again about the 2017 car. Yeah more downforce,. That’s what we need.


I thought we wanted an engine formula not aero formula?


James, could you please look at limiting the number of comments an individual can make. The forum is being ruined a few loudmouths.


My thoughts on all this:-

I admit to being hugely impressed by the current “power units”. They produce tremendous amounts of power from (comparitively) minimal amounts of fuel. I salute the designers and hope that thuis technology filters down to road cars.


This same technology could have, and most likely would have, been developed for road cars anyway. In my book if it’s possible and commercially viable someone, somewhere will do it. That’s just the way of the world and it doesn’t need F1 to make it happen but just, maybe, more visible. Any efforts to make F1 or any other form of motorsport (including Formula E until you can honestly say all the battery charging is done from the local windmill) appear green are a farce. But then, think about this, even with transport costs how much fuel does any single race use compared to the motorways of just the UK (let alone the vastly larger rest of the world!) over the same couple of weeks between races? I’m guessing it is less than a single drop in the ocean!

So, for myself, I go to watch F1 at one race a year and the rest on TV for entertainment. On TV I want to see good close racing. At a circuit I want the full visceral experience and, yes, noise is a part of that. I don’t go to rock concerts to hear the music as the same volume I would at home. Some one made a good point earlier about airshows. Exactly the same thing. When the last Vulcan came over low at Goodwwood and set all the car alarms off that was impressive, when a Typhoon come in at just subsonic and about 500 feet, that’s impressive, when I watch my plane landing at Gatwick before I get one, that’s not so impressive!


–“This same technology could have, and most likely would have, been developed for road cars anyway.”

In fact it was developed for road cars first and then was fitted to F1 cars. Regenerative braking has been around in street hybrids for years.


Not entirely convinced by this because we need to understand just how it develops it’s power. In overwords we need to see the graphs and compare, and then there is the power to weight ratio so I expect this is not a straightforward comparison by any means.


F1 is what it is, if you are not happy, find something better to watch, if you could…….


Oh look Hugo, Price is Right is on. Always exciting! 🙂

Robert in San Diego

I have not read all the replies because a thought just popped into my mind while reading the article.

The current Formula maybe an engineers wet dream but they have lost touch with the fans who ultimately fund all this nonsense. We want noise, excitement, colour etc. You are losing us.


James, do we have some specifuc dyno numbers on Hp.

I reckon the engines are powerful, but much less than the 80’s turbos which pumped near 1500 bhp



Yeah! Great point. They should compare to those turbos, more relevant comparison.


The thing thats often ignored about the turbo’s in the 80s is that while some of the manufacturer’s were capable of putting out over 1,000bhp, they only ever did during qualifying.

Also the figures that put them above 1,000 are not actually accurate as they were never put on a dyno that could give figures that high.

In the races there was fuel & reliability concerns so the boost levels were run a lot lower so most of the time (Including practice/warm-up sessions) they were actually putting out somewhere between 750-850bhp.


Aren’t these ‘power units’ a lot heavier though? Than a V10.

I don’t know exactly but I imagine with all the batteries and bits and bobs they probably are.

Weren’t the V10 era cars less than 600 kilo? And these are around 700 kilo?


-“Cowell added that the current V6 power units are now producing more power than the V10 engines, which were last used in F1 in 2005 and hold most of the lap records at circuits still on the calendar from that era”

The power-to-weight ratio is worse now than it was in the V10 era, which is why the old cars still hold many lap records.


10 years ago the cars also had more downforce & the tyres were producing a lot more grip.


@Sebee. FYI, each team takes between 30-50 tons each on a fly away race. Requires 5-6 747 cargo planes total for all of the teams.


And my idea on trees still stands. You want to host an F1 race? You must plant 2000 trees, at the track or elsewhere where they can be sustained naturally (No Abu Dhabi tree watering in the desert). Each circuit with 2000 trees offsets easily emissions generated by a weekend of V10 F1 racing. I did the math on that one a while back.


Science TimW, SCIENCE!

Tree absorbs about 25kg of carbon per year. 1kg of fuel emits about 870g of carbon. You can handle the rest of the math?


Nope, where did you get those numbers?


Seriously TimW, either you’re teasing or you never heard of Google.

F1 cars put out about 5000Kg of carbon over the weekend. 2000 Trees can absorb about 5000Kg of carbon over the year. Each track plants 2000 trees, it offsets on-track carbon created by cars. F1 could pat itself on the back.

Are we good?


Show your working Sebee!


Yeah, it’s staggering. Put a quota on this, lighten it all up to eliminate 1 747 round trip – how much fuel would F1 save the world? And what kind of fuel? Will it be 50kg or tens or thousand of kilos? And not this fluffy stuff down here where trees can deal with some of it, these 747s deposit the exhaust gases right into the atmosphere, where it’s most damaging.

Lighten the show, limit the weight each team can take, reduce the weight of the cars, the engines, all of it. That’s where the real savings are. And we could be running V8s or V10s and still be way greener and lighter.

You know, honestly, I’m willing to say that if merit and “green” was measured on V8s vs. these PUs, factoring all each needed to be supported, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the V8s were “greener” in terms of what they cost in carbon emission, including utilization, manufacturing, associated emission costs.


27,000 litres of fuel burnt doing development work on power unit alone? That’s staggering to be honest. But was that by a single constructor or the whole field? My guess is that was by the whole field, or to be precise, the whole bunch of constructors. 50 litres saved during the race, by a car, that is about 15,000 litres over the season. How those figures compare to the V8, V10 era in terms of development and races. Until we know how they compare, any conclusion would be deemed inappropriate.


TimW, link? I want to read all about how technology from F1 is transferring to the road with a straight face because why my goodness, no car maker could make a road worthy hybrid without F1.


TimW, what a cheap retort. I expect more from you TimW.

I give you valid counter points and questions, and you shrivel up your argument into the fact that Vettel isn’t winning a WDC? As I remind you over and over again, Vettel is the man. Everything else he does from now on is bonus. Gravy.

My view and feedback on these PUs is strictly to do with the spectacle being impacted and degraded overall with no real valid reason. It’s got nothing to do with Vettel. Everything to do with the fact that the logic and reasoning behind it is flawed and misguided, and justified with deceptions and misinformation.


Sebee, your hatred of the PUs stems from you blaming them for your favourite driver not winning anymore and the rest of your piece contains (as ever) you ill informed opinions stated as proven facts as well as some pretty wild assumptions and the odd straight lie. Joe Saward has a good piece on his blog about transferrance between F1 and road cars, you should read it.


TimW, if the differences between the eras don’t matter than why are these direct insiders trying to big up their overly complex and expensive PUs at the cost of those eras? If nothing else they coast the teams 1/4 of the money. Did you hear complaining from fans about engines back in V10 or V8 era? Have you ever seen this much complaining about an engine from the masses – exclude me, and you still have a huge segment of about half based on poles that don’t like these PUs.

Also, I’m saying it again – the point here is this – there is no efficiency improvements coming out of F1 into the real world – knock that idea out of your head. These F1 cars are limited by the fuel flow and the batteries they use. Battery technology is not being developed in F1, but elsewhere. F1 cars are not driven in the way we drive cars, never will be, and everything they are developing here is incredibly hard to scale up to mass production. And even if you could, do you know what the cost would be? Even a Prius costs twice as much as a small displacement econo car option of similar size – you think that’s a coincidence? And again, you think there is no cost in product efficiency as far as manufacturing of it goes? Or maintaining it? You think it’s cheaper to maintain a hybrid or an econo petrol car? You ever see how much it costs to replace the batteries on a Prius? Why don’t you Google that one. Now if that was the only cost, it would be bearable – but you still have a petrol engine to maintain in there. Hence why consumers are realizing hybrid isn’t worth it.


Sebee, the fact remains that wether running on track or on the dyno the V10s used significantly more fuel than the new PUs. Looking at the total amount of CO2 emitted by F1 as a whole in comparison with total worldwide emissions leaves you with the obvious conclusion that the differences between the two eras doesn’t matter at all, as canceling F1 altogether would make no measurable difference to the world wide figure. But what if we keep F1, and some people are inspired by what they see to buy a more fuel efficient car? What if in the course of the F1 research and development the manufacturers find something transferable to road cars? If Renault learned something from their F1 programme that slightly improved the fuel economy of every road car they sell, then all of the F1 emmisions would be wiped out and much more besides.


TimW, it’s a point of info, but indeed we don’t have a direct comparison to the other eras. Plus one could argue that there were more manufacturers in V10, providing a higher multiplier. I think point of that tidbit of info is to put the 50Kg saved per GP into context, which it clearly does for me. Putting it all in proper context is something no one seems to be willing to do, because without doubt with all facts on the table, they’d leave that presentation with egg on face. It is also why I argue against these PUs primary based on weight, fuel burned manufacturing the appendages that didn’t exist with V10s or early V8s. The efficiencies that are claimed exist only during the 2hour GP period, not during the life of the product. Quite a bit like arguing that you’re efficient while sitting down, not taking into consideration all the energy you need and waste you generate for the remainder of the day.


Sebee, how much fuel do you think they burned in the good old days? Even if we think the development regimes were the same in the V10 era, (potentially more I think) then obviously the old engines would have used significantly more.


That’s a lovely bit of info that no one cares to share with us, do they? And again, that’s probably running the finished engine on a test bench. Still not even counting all the additional manufacturing associated fuel spend on all the extra components before that engine becomes functional. That’s 21600Kg of fuel – this year, doing development. And they save 50Kg on track during a GP? Oh wow…how amazingly insignificant.

That’s a fantastic data point. Thank you for sharing James.


I went to a briefing today where the fuel company said they’d burned 27,000 litres of fuel this year doing development work on the power unit


Yes, it is the most exciting engineering championship!!!


Excellent sarcasm. Every word is full of sarcasm when put in this order, right from the Yes! all the way to the Championship!!!


I love this engine tech, and do believe that advancing engine tech is the future for F1, but they need need need to remove the performance restrictions on these engines.

Just imagine if they didn’t have these fuel flow limits, and RPM limits, we could have something truly amazing, with phenomenal power that only the best drivers could wrestle under control.


20,000 RPM, unlimited fuel flow, 2.4 twin turbo v6 with full ERS.


All I want from formula 1 is the best drivers in the fastest cars on earth going balls out from lights to flag, the end. Economy driving,engine saving modes, low revving engines? Blluuuurgh!


“going balls out from lights to flag, the end. “

The thing is that this is something F1 has never been.

There has always been some management going on be it car, tyre or fuel & the races where ‘some’ drivers were driving close to flat out all race were few & far between.


Yeah, bit it’s getting worse, much worse. Not better. And it’s clearly visible to us.

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