A WINNING COMBINATION
If we were to summarise Mercedes’ advantages, one could say that the PU106B combines the benefits of the Renault setup – a compact V6 – with those of the Ferrari installation – no intercooler in the sidepod. We recently showed Renault Sport F1 director of operations Remi Taffin a diagram of the Mercedes power unit; here are his thoughts:
“We could say that they have gathered the best of both worlds, since the MGU-H sits within the ‘Vee’ and the intercooler lodged somewhere in the chassis, which frees up space in the sidepods.
“However, this architecture features other constraints. When the compressor is split from the turbine, the shaft [that connects both elements] is very long, which cause some problems, most notably in terms of dynamics.
“That said, the topic of transient phases needs to be addressed. These are turbocharged engines, so there is a response time. The pipework here [on the Renault power unit] are longer than there [on its Mercedes counterpart].”
Theoretically, Mercedes’ main structural flaw should come from the unusual length of the turbine shaft. This makes it more vulnerable, especially when rotational speeds reach 125,000rpm (not to be confused with engine rpm). As a result, the shaft needs to be extremely stiff, but Mercedes’s PU106B does meet this requirement.
Its seamless integration within the W06 chassis is the main reason why the Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe-led team has been so dominant over the past two years. Mercedes took up the challenge presented by the new power units and succeeded better than its rivals thanks to the very early and close-knit collaboration between its factories at Brackley and Brixworth, separated by only 27 miles.
In order to shake up the established order, Honda and Renault – which has confirmed its return as a works outfit – will need to really speed up their recovery, while Ferrari must not drop the ball after making noticeable inroads in 2015.
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