Mercedes talk up future of F1

Mercedes have voiced their belief that "motor will be put back into motor sport" when new engine regulations come into force in F1 in 2014.

The forthcoming campaign sees the end of an era because after eight years the normally-aspirated 2.4-litre V8s will be no more.

From 2014, in a bid to cut costs and become greener and leaner, the cars will be powered by turbo-charged 1.6-litre V6s.

Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton at the helm of one of their cars for the next three years, offered a sneak peak into the new concept at their High Performance Powertrains facility in Brixworth.

The word 'engine' will no longer exist in F1 as the term 'power unit' will instead prevail, with the package incorporating the engine, the turbocharger, KERS (kinetic energy recovery system), the new ERS (energy recovery system), battery and all controlling electronics.

The overall target, as currently faced by the engineers at Mercedes, along with fellow manufacturers Ferrari and Renault, is to achieve the same power output of 750 horsepower, but using much less fuel.

Each car will start a race with a maximum fuel load of 100 kilograms, the equivalent of 140 litres, and run at a maximum of 15,000rpm.

That compares to present fuel levels of 150kgs, and with an rpm of 18,000.

Crucially, a driver is currently allowed eight engine changes per season, with the average distance covered by each of 2000km.

Yet come 2014 only five changes of the power unit will be allowed, and will have to run to 4000km, offering a considerable challenge to the engineers currently developing them.

For fans who thrive on the current grunt of the V8 engine noise, managing director Andy Cowell insists the V6s will still be "loud, but sweeter sounding".

Cowell added: "I had the privilege of standing in a test cell the first time it was run and I had a big smile on my face.

"The sound is going to be pleasant, with the volume a little lower, but it's not a problem with the direction we are going."

One of the issues is the new ERS that will turn discarded heat from the turbo and rear axle into energy and adding that into the unit.

At present, engines are assisted by KERS that takes energy stored under braking to provide an additional power boost of 80hp for 6.7secs per lap to assist with overtaking.

With ERS in addition to KERS, there will be a boost of 161hp for 33.3secs per lap, although the cars will be 20-25kg heavier in light of the new system.

But it is the fact the cars will be running on considerably less fuel, yet required to find the same power overall that is the real challenge.

Cowell added: "We will be about there in terms of lap time compared to 2013. It's a stretchy target, it's very ambitious, but then this is Formula One.

"It's a competition where the most ingenious engineer will win out, and it will also become a thinking driver's championship to get the most from the car and the available energy."

That is not to say it will become a Sunday economy drive where a driver will not be operating at full power to conserve fuel.

"I don't think we will go down that route," said Cowell.

"If you make inefficient engines, then yes, that will be the case. If you make efficient engines, then no.

"Overall, it's about putting the motor back into motor sport."

At this stage, 14 months away from the opening race of 2014, Cowell is unable to offer any insight into how Mercedes are faring against the competition in Ferrari and Renault.

"We are trying to get on with our development programme, and we will do the best we can," added Cowell.

"Of course, when there are significant rule changes there is a risk somebody spots an opening and others don't.

"But then we have seen things achieved without rule changes, so I don't see it being any different than normal."