Obituary: Porsche engine designer Hans Mezger, 1929-2020

Hans Mezger, the architect of a line of successful racing engines at Porsche including the TAG-badged Formula 1 turbo V6, has died at the age of 90.

Obituary: Porsche engine designer Hans Mezger, 1929-2020
Listen to this article

Mezger oversaw development of the flat-12 that powered the Porsche 917 to a pair of Le Mans 24 Hours victories in 1970 and '71 and the flat-sixes for the 935, 936 and 956/962 designs that between them won the French enduro no fewer than 11 times.

He also headed up Porsche's ill-fated and short-lived return to F1 in 1991 with the 3.5-litre V12 engine used by the Footwork team at the end of a career with the German manufacturer that stretched back to 1956. He also designed the flat-six boxer engine for the 911 in 1963.

Michael Steiner, who as head of research and development is in charge of motorsport at Porsche, said: "The news of his death represents a very sad loss for us.

"We thank Hans Mezger for his extraordinary engineering achievements, which he undertook for motorsport in general and for Porsche in particular. His innovations for our series sports cars will remain unforgotten forever."

Mezger joined Porsche in 1956 straight from university, working initially on diesel engines before moving into its calculations department.

"I wanted to join Porsche because the type 356 sports car inspired me," said Mezger. "So I applied, got an interview, and the company offered me a job in diesel engine development — until then I didn't even know that Porsche had such a thing.

"But I envisioned working on sports cars and they showed understanding and that's how I started in the calculations department."

Niki Lauda, McLaren with Porsche engine designer Hans Mezger

Niki Lauda, McLaren with Porsche engine designer Hans Mezger

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

He joined the marque's F1 programme in 1960, before designing what has been dubbed the 'Mezger engine' for Porsche's new 911 sportscar, which was originally called the 901.

Mezger was subsequently promoted to department head of the new racing division set up by R&D boss Ferdinand Piech in 1965 where he oversaw the 917 project.

He led the design of the normally-aspirated flat-12s that powered the Le Mans-winning 917 coupes and the turbocharged version in the back of the open-top 917/30 that swept to the Can-Am title in North America in 1973.

Mezger and his team then brought turbocharged technology to Porsche road car range with the 911 Turbo introduced in 1974.

His 2.1-litre flat-six won Le Mans in 1976 and '77 in the back of the 936 Group 6 car and in '79, in three-litre form, in the 935 Group 5 silhouette GT car.

The 2.65-litre IndyCar engine that followed never raced in its intended arena, but was resurrected for the Group C fuel formula that came into force in 1982.

It was the basis of the engine that won Le Mans in the back of the 936 in 1981 and then the 956 in 1982-85, the 962C in 1986 and '87 and then the Dauer 962LM Porsche in 1994.

He was the creative brains behind development of the TAG Turbo V6 commissioned by McLaren.

This engine powered the McLaren MP4/2 that Niki Lauda took to the F1 world title in 1984, before Alain Prost followed up on that success with back-to-back championships in 1985-86.

The 'TAG Turbo - made by Porsche' power plant won a total of 25 grands prix in 1984-87.

Alain Prost, Ron Dennis, Niki Lauda, McLaren and Hans Mezger behind

Alain Prost, Ron Dennis, Niki Lauda, McLaren and Hans Mezger behind

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

shares
comments
Grid build-ups could be abandoned as new safety option
Previous article

Grid build-ups could be abandoned as new safety option

Next article

Bahrain could run second race on “almost oval” track, says Brawn

Bahrain could run second race on “almost oval” track, says Brawn
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Prime

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Motorsport.com in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi.

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Prime

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Prime

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon Prime

The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s teammate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy Prime

How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Prime

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Prime

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second-best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot.

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Prime

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022