It comes as little surprise that the Mercedes-AMG PU106A Formula 1 hybrid power unit won the Powertrain Innovation of the Year at the Professional MotorSport World Expo last week. Mercedes controlled Formula 1 this year, winning 15 of 18 races with the season’s finale coming up this weekend.
The award was voted by 12 motorsport industry leaders, including team officials and journalists. Also in contention for the honor were the Nissan ZEOD RC, the 2.4-liter V4 hybrid in the Porsche 919 and the Volvo Polestar B8444S Australian V8 supercar engine .
“This engine hit the mark, dominating Formula 1 in a season when everything was new,” praised judge Mark Raffau, managing director of race operations at IMSA.
Besides a winning record, the judges also noted the Mercedes’ leading position on fuel economy in series. This was the first year under new rules limited teams to a 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 integrated with hybrid energy recovery systems. For the previous eight years the engine configuration was a 2.4-liter V8.
Mercedes’ domination has not come without some controversy. Red Bull’s boss Christian Horner wants the freeze on engine development to thaw a little, letting Renault and Ferrari catch up for next year. Or he fears there will be a “ridiculous” spending war. Mercedes obviously is opposed, and critics point to Red Bull’s domination in previous years.
“Yes, we also dominated, but it was a completely different situation,” he was quoted in Autoweek. “Everyone had the chance to develop their cars before each race, and much of what we did was immediately copied by our opponents.”
Just how is the Mercedes so much more effective than Renault and Ferrari? Peter Windsor of The Racer’s Edge and contributor Craig Scarborough discuss the engine in the video below. Some of the key talking points include the unique split turbo with the turbine in the rear and compressor up front, a very compact exhaust manifold that focuses on turbo performance, not exhaust tuning, and a unique design for the air inlet.