Analysis: Why hybrid engines are an F1 must for Mercedes

Formula 1's current hybrid turbo engines have served to divide opinion, with Bernie Ecclestone a chief critic about their noise and costs.

But as teams resisted efforts to revert to the V8 power units, the less public benefits of the more efficient power units have emerged.

Now one of Mercedes' top men has claimed that the new hybrid V6s are essential for the German car manufacturer's road car business because technology transfer is working.

Road car relevance

Ecclestone recently suggested that the current turbo V6 power units were not delivering for the sport, because they were too expensive, not loud enough and he suggested had no relevance for the road car industry.

But Thomas Weber, board member of Daimler and head of R&D at Mercedes, says that F1's current engines are delivering exactly what his company needs to justify its investment.

"We are doing everything possible to maintain [our position] in the F1 championship, but equally when it comes to the road car business is it about what can we do to bring the ideas from F1 as fast as possible to the road car business," Weber told media over the Monaco GP weekend.

Fuel economy essential

Weber says that ever-stricter emissions regulations around the world have put the spotlight on delivering more fuel-efficient engines.

And it is the 100kg fuel limit in F1 now, forcing car makers to deliver more economical engines, that is paying off in helping road car technology advance.

"We are doing this kind of technology transfer – especially with the new regulations when it comes to drivetrain, hybrid technology, and using 30 per cent less fuel but the same driveability and speed.

"It is amazing. These kind of ideas, to downsize engines and use electrical power and batteries, is exactly what we need on the road car side.

"These technologies are also necessary for stringent emission regulations around the world."

Weber thinks that advances made in F1 are getting on to road cars within the space of two years, and he expects quicker transfers in the future.

Connectivity next step

Weber says the next focus for road car manufacturers will be in connectivity, something which Mercedes will be boosted by thanks to a new relationship with mobile technology giant Qualcomm.

He added: "It is one of the key challenges of this century. It is key for every customer. They use their smartphone every day so we are looking at opportunities of what can we do to improve this field."

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff reckoned that there was even the chance such connectivity advances with Qualcomm – for example in wireless charging – could boost its F1 team too.

"It is not only a partnership in the conventional sense, but a technical partnership which not only will accelerate the F1 car but will be translated into road cars," he said.

"There are so many potential areas of collaboration. I can tell you there is so much innovation and potential in the relationship.

"We are curious about innovation that can make us progress and go faster in the future."

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Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes
Article type Analysis