Why is Mercedes Benz so dominant in formula 1?

In this article, we find out why Mercedes Benz is so dominant in formula 1? We also explain some of the key technological factors which resulted in the unprecedented success of the Mercedes Benz Formula 1 team.

Why is Mercedes Benz so dominant in formula 1?

Mercedes Benz is so dominant in Formula 1 racing because not only do they have the fastest car on the grid produced by a team of talented engineers, working tirelessly each season but also it is driven by some of the fastest drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Nico Roseburg since 2014.

Mercedes Benz started racing in Formula 1 back in the 1950s. The team won 2 championships back to back and the Mercedes Benz team was given the nickname ‘silver arrows’ by the German media. Mercedes Benz returned to formula 1 in the year 2010 but the team didn’t win any championship until the year 2014. In 2014, formula 1 saw a major change in the regulation and introduced turbo hybrid engines in the cars across the grid. 

Mercedes Benz started the development process of the 2014 formula 1 race car as early as 2012. The company used its years of expertise in developing turbocharged V6 petrol engines. Mercedes Benz already manufactures the world’s most powerful inline 4 cylinder petrol engine in some of its cars like the Mercedes Benz A45 AMG so developing they had a strong base and understanding when developing the 1.6 litres V6 turbocharged petrol engine to meet the regulations in 2014. 

The formula 1 Mercedes team is called the Mercedes AMG Petronas formula one team, Petronas is an oils and fuel provider for the team and together they work to achieve the most performance from the engine. Mercedes Benz is also the engine supplier for some formula 1 racing teams like Williams racing, Mclaren and Auston Martin racing team.

 As an engine supplier Mercedes Benz has won 10 constructors titles and the Mercedes Benz Formula 1 team is still undefeated in the constructor’s championship with 8 title wins.

Mercedes Benz Formula 1 driver Sir Lewis Hamilton also won the drivers championship with the Mercedes Benz team six times and Nico Rosberg won the 2016 drivers championship. It is the combination of the best drivers and continuously evolving cars through each season that resulted in the dominance of Mercedes Benz in the formula1. After Nico Rosberg retired in 2016, Mercedes Benz signed a deal with Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas. 

This development was the best thing that happened to the Mercedes Benz Formula 1 team as Bottas proved to be the most consistent number 2 driver. Mercedes Benz out-qualified all the competition in more than 70 percent of the races since 2014 and brought home double-point finishes in more than 100 races. 

Formula 1 races around 22 to 23 race tracks every year and Mercedes Benz keeps bringing update packages to different circuits as what worked at 1 race does not necessarily mean it will work at another one. The race tracks themselves bring whole other challenges as some are street circuits with heavy braking zones and few tracks like Monza which tests the top speed of the formula 1 car. Hence, the process of development and finding the perfect balance between the powertrain and aerodynamics is very crucial.

Millions of dollars and countless production hours go into developing a formula 1 car since Mercedes Benz is an automotive behemoth and with sponsors like Ineos, and Petronas there is no shortage of resources to develop the fastest car on the grid. 

What are the key technological factors behind the Mercedes Benz’s success in formula 1?

Formula 1 is the most advanced level of motorsports and the technological innovations found in the formula 1 car will one day filter down to the ongoing production of cars on the road. Mercedes Benz has always pushed the boundaries and explored various loopholes in the regulation to stay ahead of the field. Following are some of the key components in the Mercedes AMG Formula 1 car.

  • The Powertrain- the powertrain in the formula 1 car is the complete package of an internal combustion engine along with the gearbox and energy recovery systems like the MGU-H and MGU-K. The internal combustion engine is a turbocharged V6 petrol engine with 1.6-litre displacement. 

On its own, the engine can produce more than 700 bhp and with the energy recovery system and hybrid drive, the total power output of a formula 1 race car goes above 1000bhp. 1000 bhp is a significant amount of power considering the weight of the formula 1 car is less than 1000kgs including the fuel and driver onboard. The thermodynamic efficiency of the Mercedes Benz Formula 1 engine is almost 50 percent which is impressive considering most modern engines operate at a thermodynamic efficiency of 30 per cent and the remaining energy is wasted. 

The Mercedes Benz formula 1 powertrain is manufactured by Mercedes AMG high-performance powertrains. The company develops all the components in-house, special materials go into making the engine block and the moving parts of the engine.

The Mercedes Benz powertrain operates at 18000 RPMs, hence the engine must be reliable to last the entire race distance. The Mercedes Formula 1 engine uses NANOSLIDE coating on the cylinder walls. This is an extremely thin coating applied to the inner surface of the cylinder to reduce friction between the piston. Twin-wire arc spraying (TWAS) is used to spray an extremely thin coat of iron-carbon alloy on the cylinder walls.  The friction between the piston and piston rings is reduced by almost 50 per cent.

  • MGU-H

The MGU-H stands for Motor generator unit-heat. It is probably the most complex part of the formula 1 car since the start of the turbo-hybrid era. The conventional turbocharger has a turbine side that runs from the flow of the exhaust gases and a compressor side on the air inlet. 

The compressor wheel and turbine wheel are connected and the air is compressed as the flow of the exhaust gas increases. However, as the engine is not operated at maximum rpm all the time, there is a turbo lag since it takes time to get the Turbo revving at more than 200000 RPMs.

MGU-H exists to recover the energy coming from the exhaust gases and store it in the battery back. It is deployed when the engine is at lower RPMs and acts as an anti-lag device. The driver gets instantaneous power, as the compressor is rotated by the recovery motor until the flow of the exhaust gases is high enough. 

The motor is located between the compressor and turbine wheel, due to the high operating temperature of the turbo, MGU-H uses complex construction and materials, and the detailed specifications are one of the closely guarded secrets in motorsports.

  • MGUK

The MHU-K stands for the motor-generator unit- kinetic. It is similar to a conventional hybrid drive. The electric machine is located between the engine and the gearbox and recovers lost energy when the driver is braking.

 The recuperated energy is stored in the lithium battery back and it can produce an additional power output of 300 bhp. The driver can develop the hybrid driver at the press of a button on the steering wheel and several modes are available for recuperation.

Conclusion

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One racing team works like a well-oiled machine at every race. It is the combination of the fastest drive and the fastest cars that resulted in the total domination of Mercedes Benz in the Turbo-hybrid Era.

References

FAQs: Why is Mercedes Benz so dominant in formula 1?

Why is Mercedes so much better at F1?

Mercedes Benz is so much better at F1 because they have the fastest car on the grid. Mercedes Benz also got a headstart in the development of the 2014 formula 1 car. 2014 marked the beginning of the turbo-hybrid era.

Why is Mercedes the fastest in F1?

Mercedes Benz is the fastest in the F1 because of the more energy density in the battery pack and low rake design with an aero package maximised for top speed.

Is Mercedes the most dominant F1 team ever?

Yes, the Mercedes Benz is the most dominant team ever with 10 constructor championship titles and back to back victories since 2014.

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