The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team unveiled its 2015 Formula One World Championship challenger, the F1 W06 Hybrid, ahead of the first day of pre-season testing at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain.
An intensive design phase combining incremental gains and targeted innovation has produced the F1 W06 Hybrid, a car which delivers mechanical, structural, aerodynamic and weight saving developments over its predecessor, the F1 W05 Hybrid. As the age of F1 hybrid power evolves, the requirements for improved safety, reliability, efficiency and performance increase, the team said.
It’s very much a case of evolution rather than revolution in 2015. Where last year was a case of “Can we do it?” we are now faced with a different challenge: “How do we improve it?” We have been working hard on all areas of the Power Unit to increase the conversion efficiency of every single system—trying to make our package more thermally efficient and produce greater absolute power. The focus in this respect has been on combustion efficiency and frictional losses, be they in core parts of the ICE or the ancillary aspects of both ICE and ERS. Development of fuel and lubricants has been critical to this process and we have continued working well with PETRONAS in this respect. There is very significant scope for change under the regulations and significant opportunities to make performance gains, so we have left no stone unturned in our quest for performance, and I am sure that exactly the same is true of our competitors.—Andy Cowell, Managing Director, Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains
For the 2015 season, there have been several major regulations changes. The first is the limit of four Power Units per driver, per season—a reduction from the five available in 2014. Coupled with an increase in the length of the calendar from 19 to 20 races, this now requires each Power Unit to last more than 25% longer than before.
Another major change is permitting variable inlet systems. The last generation of Formula One engines that were permitted to use such technology were those of the V10 era, noted Cowell. This provides an opportunity to optimize the inlet tuning of the ICE against all operating RPM values, thus improving efficiency.
Manufacturers now also have the opportunity to introduce upgrades to their engines throughout the season, provided they remain within the overall limit of 32 development tokens and do not exceed the maximum of four engines per driver, per season.
This decision hasn’t altered our development strategy for 2015, which was always to gather the necessary data from pre-season testing in order to define and submit the engine specification for the opening race. However, it does offer the opportunity to exploit this interpretation for further gain later in the season, should we choose to do so.—Andy Cowell
One of the big challenges of 2014 with the new Power Units was cooling, particularly the charge air cooling, which was a significant new element, said Executive Director (Technical), Paddy Lowe. For the second year, the team developed a better optimized solution.
PETRONAS has been central to the team’s performance since becoming Title Partner and key Technical Partner in 2010, with a dedicated technology team working on the design, development and delivery of bespoke PETRONAS Primax race fuel, PETRONAS Syntium engine oil, and PETRONAS Tutela fluids.
Following the announcement of revolutionary regulation changes for the 2014 Formula One season that ushered in the hybrid power units, PETRONAS spent more than three years working closely with the Team to engineer a brand new range of customised fuels and lubricants. Now, with a limit of four Power Units per driver, per season in 2015 compared to the five permitted in 2014, the demands on both PETRONAS Primax fuel and PETRONAS Syntium lubricants are greater than ever. The key to meeting these challenges has been PETRONAS Fluid Technology Solutions—an approach to fluid requirements that maximizes performance through tailor-made product offerings and expert services.
For the new season, PETRONAS has developed a fuel which enhances protection of the engine, provides better combustion and improves driveability. The fuel prevents engine damage by cleaning and protecting the critical high-pressure direct injection system and sensitive engine parts; the fuel formulation has been optimized to provide better combustion by enhanced energy release; and the advanced energy formula has been designed to ensure good driveability for superior acceleration, all while building upon the efficiency gains already achieved in development for the previous season.
With its increased power per liter of displacement, the 1.6L Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) of the Hybrid era also runs hotter than its 2.4-liter predecessor. This requires lubricants that do not get too thin under high temperatures and resist oxidation, balanced with a requirement to minimize friction within the ICE for reduced fuel consumption.
The engine oil must therefore possess distinct thermal characteristics to withstand higher operating temperatures and cylinder pressures, and be optimized effectively to contribute to cooling. The use of Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) also brings the challenge of heat dissipation, requiring an ERS fluid that cools the system effectively. Equipped with a unique formulation to defend against extreme temperature and maintain optimum engine performance, PETRONAS Syntium proved to be a winning formula in 2014, with PETRONAS scientists also translating its advanced technology into the formulation of ERS fluid.
During the course of the 2014 season, PETRONAS upgraded its on-track chemical analysis to gain greater insight into the changes occurring in the oil within the engine under extreme conditions. This has given key insights into how to further improve lubricant performance in terms of heat management, friction reduction and hardware durability. As a result, PETRONAS has formulated a new engine oil that is now undergoing testing with the option for adoption during the 2015 season.