Mercedes: 1000bhp F1 power unit getting closer but not the only target

Mercedes engine boss Andy Cowell says the headline-grabbing power output of 1000bhp is getting closer and closer in Formula One, but stressed that bhp figures are not the only target for power unit development.

Since the introduction of the current V6 turbo engine regulations in 2014, Mercedes has had the upper hand over its rival manufacturers and secured all three titles in that time. Last year Cowell revealed that efficiency gains had allowed the Mercedes power unit to break the 900bhp barrier, edging Formula One cars closer to the mythical 1000bhp figure.

But Cowell said power unit development is not only about headline numbers the engine can achieve on a dynamometer.

"It's getting closer and closer [to 1000bhp] with every upgrade, but I don't think we are ever going to say exactly where we are -- and to win races it's not about a dyno derby," he said. "If we are having a dyno derby then the powertrain would be completely different, we wouldn't be bothered about volume, mass or heat rejection. The partnership we've got [with the chassis side] means we optimise every single system to come up with the fastest car we've got to win the race.

"It's not a dyno derby, it's not just about qualifying, it's about winning the race and getting those 25 points. That's what we spend our working lives and a lot of our out-of-work lives thinking about that. The whole team at both Brackley and Brixworth think about that."

The Mercedes power unit has been renamed the M08 EQ Power+ this year and Cowell revealed that it features new MGU-K and MGU-H units to deal with the extra strain under this year's regulations.

"The base architechture of our ERS system is similar to what we started with in 2014. We started with a module that houses the two inverters and lithium-ion cells, housed underneath the fuel cell. Is it the same for this year? No it's not, there's improvements in the high-power switches, they are more efficient. There are several improvements on reliability inside the box meaning we can run it harder for longer, we are not as vulnerable to having to de-rate the system for cooling reasons because of heating effects within the module.

"The MGU-H is completely new as a consequence of the drive-cycle change, and the MGU-K is completely new as well. I think the cables are the same but the length has changed! The connectors have changed as well. It's a big evolution."

Asked about the extent of the progress Mercedes has made this year, Cowell said it was all relative.

"We've made a lot of progress. What's the right adjective to use? I'm not sure. We've made good progress on the thermal efficiency, we've made improvements in pretty much every single area of the power unit. Is that a big gain? It depends where you are against your opponents. Collectively both factories have done a great job over the last three years but this is a big change and we need to see how the performances in qualifying at the opening races and the race results.

"It's not just about getting on the front row of the grid, that's great for Saturday night, it's where do you finish at the end of Sunday that really matters and that's how hard you can race for the 205 km of the race. We've made an improvement, is it a big one? It depends where you are against your opponents."