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Mercedes admits to issues with 2021 power unit

NEWS STORY
13/02/2021

Supplying power units to its works teams and three customers teams this season, has not been without its problems for Mercedes, as engine boss admits to "some issues".

Other than its own (multi) championship winning team, and customers Aston Martin and Williams, this season sees Mercedes re-partner with McLaren.

While most believe the German team is heading for its eight successive brace of titles, many want to see it face a serious, consistent challenge.

Whether it is the German outfit reverting to its customary underdog stance or whether there really is glimmer of hope for its rivals remains to be seen, but as the launch season gets underway, engine boss, Hywel Thomas admits that the 2021 engine has encountered some early issues.

"In terms of readiness, we've got plenty of engines in build at the moment getting ready for the new season," says Thomas in a pre-season video by Mercedes. "We have already got some of them together and we have also got engines running on the dynos right now, doing their durability runs.

"There are also engines for our customers too," he adds, "which are already with them and either in the back of their chassis and fired up, or in the process of doing so.

"We have got some issues with the power units," he admits, "we know we have issues but we have plenty of plans in place to fix all of those issues. I'm sure it will all be ready for the first race."

In addition to those unspecified issues, Mercedes, like its rival manufacturers, has to contend with the fact that only upgrade allowed over the course of the season - not to mention the subsequent freeze - has had to alter its approach.

"It's the first winter where we have prepared for only one single upgrade for the whole season," he said. "So, we have to get all of our performance into the first power unit that goes to the first race, whereas in previous seasons we have been able to split that up into different packages for each power unit that gets introduced.

"So, with that challenge, we have to get absolutely everything there for the first race and make sure it's completely reliable.

"Also, there are more races this season and the same number of power units, which means that each individual power unit needs to run across more races. We just have to make sure that we are ready for that and focus even more on reliability.

"We also have the challenge of a pretty short winter, as we didn't finish racing until the middle of December and now, we're straight back into it. So, if anything, we've had more to do and less time to do it in."

Of course, having won 103 (74%) of the 138 Grands Prix held since the introduction of the hybrid formula in 2014, whatever the issues or reliability concerns, Mercedes remains the hot favourite.

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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 15/02/2021 9:53

"Bio-fuels like Ethanol made from agricultural sources are indeed renewable, they are very far from sustainable. The really nasty thing about Climate Change is that at the same time as causing death & destruction, the new weather also reduces areas of viable food production. Making fuel grown on land that would otherwise grow food for people exacerbates that problem.

At present migrations to escape Wars, Climate change & associated starvation & disease are being largely contained in the "Developing" World, but as has been seen in attempted migration into Europe; as pressure grows, so more people try to move. As things worsen in places like sub-Saharan Africa, even bigger migrations will occur & sooner or later people will force themselves across seas & border into the "secure" West. If this sounds like hyperbole it's simply what people have done since the first homo sapiens migrated out of Africa. The pressure of Climate Change will be a catalyst for more movement.

On a more global perspective Big Oil will happily accept any "solution" which produces payback on its existing investments in plant & infrastructure. They'll want to play a delaying action while they re-tool for the future. That puts liquid bio-fuels at the top of their list, followed by Hydrogen.
Neither of these can ever be a "drop-in" replacement for hydrocarbons for transport. Irrespective of anything else, there is neither enough "spare" agricultural land (a diminishing resource anyway) nor capacity to "crack" water into Hydrogen to do so."

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2. Posted by Superbird70, 14/02/2021 16:20

"If ethanol is the primary energy source then F1 would be using the fuel as Indy cars. Ethanol can be made from natural gas but is not considered a sustainable fuel unless produced directly from bio-matter ( corn, long grasses) which would then align it with F1 sustainability goals. In North America ethanol blends up to 15% are readily available , and Brazil has vehicles running solely on ethanol in some urban centers. Ethanol's big drawback is its corrosive reactions with metals. Mercedes planning ahead as always might believe this to be an issue moving forward."

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3. Posted by kenji, 14/02/2021 12:58

"@ Editor....Do you know any of the details, broadly speaking, of what that exclusive contract contains? For example does it clarify the prime energy source? What I'm alluding to is what is the prime source of 'fuel'. ATM the hybrid uses E for additive /complimentary energy leaving the ICE as the prime generator. What if that principle was reversed? Would that signify an E classification? Lots to chew on...."

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4. Posted by Editor, 14/02/2021 11:09

"Formula E has an exclusive contract/licence with the FIA for 25 seasons.

The earliest F1 can go "wholly" electric is 2039."

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5. Posted by kenji, 14/02/2021 11:04

"@ Max Noble...You may well be right Max in your assumptions but i don't quite see how they are going to accomodate any extensive delays to a new engine config. We are now on the cusp of having a freeze implemented and if they further delayed the introduction of new engines that would mean that this current aberration would've been in use for some 16 years!!!
It's quite possible that they may take the long shot and introduce a stepped change centered mainly around these new fuels and whilst i intensely dislike these hybrids i would rather see an extension of their use than contemplate a wholly electric F1 grid. That is not F1..that's something else and F1 as it is known would vanish. As for Mercedes, well I would expect that they are well on the way already with their own cocktail machines! Red Bull will also be on the march now that they've entered the engine business as they will now be able to attract some big sponsors similar to INEOS."

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6. Posted by Max Noble, 14/02/2021 4:16

"@Kenji - as I note in the “Electrifying” article - Big Oil would far prefer to replace reliance on oil with reliance on any other substance than (free) sunlight. I’m sure Toto, and the wider Mercedes organisation, is keen to delay the 2025 engine regulations until they get a clear picture of who will win the next generation of road going engines. Will it be fully electric, hydrogen, or coconut milk....? Toto is very clearly and publicly *not* making a choice. I’m fascinated to see how his language evolves as the 2025 engine regulation discussions kick off... Currently I can see F1 kicking the can down the road and possibly delaying a change until 2030 when major new on-road legislation is poised to roll out across Europe... We shall see...!"

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7. Posted by kenji, 14/02/2021 0:57

"Whilst this thread is dealing with 'PU's' primarily, it might be acceptable to the site owners to promote some dialogue re 'new engines' for '25. Last night i was reading up on synthetic fuels and, in the absence of knowledge of the 'current' fuel samples being analysed by the teams, i looked at the most common type already widely available, ethanol.

Apparently whilst ethanol doesn't intrinsically deliver the same 'punch' as current fossil derived fuels it can be structurally altered by various enrichment properties. One such arrangement is the enrichment with hydrogen, which in specific amounts is very potent. It does reduce Nox discharges and increased energy it does hover somewhat in comparative consumption. Guess who is the new partner at Mercedes? INEOS...the largest hydrogen producer in Europe/UK. Very very interesting. "

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8. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 13/02/2021 20:30

"Just what McLaren needed to hear."

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9. Posted by kenji, 13/02/2021 11:00

"Why on earth would Mercedes acknowledge in public that they have problems? That fact alone set my BS detector flashing madly accompanied by sirens!!! As if. This has to be a red herring surely. "

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

10. Posted by Lapps, 13/02/2021 9:59

"Oh, horror, Mercedes know that they are going to win by two laps this year!"

Rating: Positive (4)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

11. Posted by Kkiirmki, 13/02/2021 9:00

"They're not pulling out the underdog card already!!!"

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