Mercedes expecting big engine gains in 2020, thanks in part to Formula E

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Mercedes is expecting strong performance gains from their engine in 2020 after a busy winter of development.

In recent years, the German manufacturer has lost the advantage they held since the hybrid formula began in 2014 and in fact, last season, found themselves lagging behind Ferrari.

That has spurred a push for more power to try and close the gap, and murmurs inside Mercedes suggest they could in fact once again lead the way in 2020.

“We have had to develop an even wider area of the PU, we have looked at every single system,” engine boss Andy Cowell told Crash.net.

“We have worked on a huge array of projects and when summed together they will hopefully help propel the car around the track quicker and give the aerodynamics team more opportunities to improve as well.

“There is no such thing as perfection, there is always the opportunity to improve and all of us have that mindset.

“We’re always improving every detail - the materials, the hardware and ingredients, but also things like our design tools. You know there are areas where you can get better and being self-critical and keeping an open mind is at the core of that mindset.”

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Over the past year or more, Mercedes has also expanded its HPP operation at Brixworth to incorporate the company's new Formula E entry from Season 6.

And while it is often suggested that one day the all-electric project will be the death knell of their F1 program, right now it's actually boosting it.

“Formula E is a fascinating championship with the electric machine as the only device propelling the car,” Cowell told Motorsport.

“The efficiencies of that electric machine, the inverter and all the control systems, are paramount, and the torque accuracy delivery is crucial.

“Some of the development learning there has now fed back into F1, so from Melbourne this year, our F1 hybrid system will benefit from our Formula E development work. We’ve also made some manufacturing improvements that originate in the FE program.

“Having two highly competitive series to do engineering work on is initially a strain because it takes a period of time to find the right people for the new series, some of those people have transferred from the F1 team, some have been recruited from outside," he explained.

“However, I think overall it is a benefit because it provides opportunities for careers to flourish on new technology, on a new series and now we are seeing the ideas flow between both. Both powertrains will benefit as a consequence.”

Focusing back on F1 specifically, there has been one area where Mercedes has been vulnerable in recent years and that's in hot or high altitude races.

Indeed, three of their worst races of 2019, Austria, Singapore and Brazil, can be linked to those very factors and addressing that has been a goal.

“We are putting significant effort into making sure that all the cooling fluids on the Power Unit operate at a higher temperature,” Cowell revealed.

“This increases the temperature difference between that coolant fluid and the ambient temperature that we are racing in, which increases the effectiveness of the cooling system.

“That’s a tough challenge though because large parts of the engine are made from aluminium and the temperatures that we are operating at mean the material properties are decaying quite rapidly.

“Managing that over an eight-race distance Power Unit cycle [average race span required under F1’s technical regulations] is a tough engineering challenge but that's what we are striving for."

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