Technical focus: 2016 F1 power units



If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For its new PUA106C, reigning Constructors’ champions Mercedes have kept the same power unit architecture as its all-conquering predecessor. Consequently, it still features a split-turbo layout with the compressor placed at the front of the engine and the turbine sitting at the back. The shaft that connects both elements goes through the two cylinder banks of the engine where, incidentally, the MGU-H also sits. Although Mercedes’ success does not boil down to this clever layout, its role in the Silver Arrows’ performances should not be overlooked.

Save for the shape and position of the ERS cooler, as well as the volume of the inlet plenum, the 2016-spec Mercedes and its chassis integration do not seem to have radically changed. We will have to wait for further images to identify the areas where the Brixworth engine engineers spent their 19 tokens over the winter (by comparison, Honda has used 18 and Renault only 7). According to Mercedes engine boss Andy Cowell, the tokens have been spent with a view towards optimising the power unit as a whole.

“32 tokens is quite a lot, so we haven’t had to restrict any of our development activity to a specific area,” said the head of High Performance Powertrains. "Anything which could yield a decent efficiency improvement – and therefore a decent performance improvement – has been explored and we’re now working to make sure our package is sufficiently durable.”