Mercedes aims to uncover and match Renault engine mapping trickery

Renault Sport, Viry Chatillon, France 2012

Mercedes has vowed to catch Formula 1’s runaway Renault-powered teams, as it risks losing millions in Concorde Agreement bonus money.

Formerly looking set to finish second behind Red Bull in the lucrative Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes had a bad weekend in Japan and is now ten points behind Ferrari.

Not only that, Lotus – whose Romain Grosjean was challenging for victory at Suzuka – is no longer far behind in the teams’ title chase.

Mercedes, on the other hand, has lost ground.

“Red Bull has taken a big step forward since Singapore,” Toto Wolff told Auto Motor und Sport, adding that the similarly Renault-powered Lotus is now a few tenths ahead.

“We need to analyse what they have done,” said Mercedes’ motor sport chief.

The German report said that Wolff suspects that the top two Renault-powered teams are now streaking away with a clever engine mapping and exhaust-blowing solution.

“If that’s the case,” Wolff said, “we need to find out why we have missed something.

“We think we [now] know what they’re doing. The only question is whether we have the resources to implement something in the last four races. Perhaps we will need to reallocate some resources,” he added.

The problem is that, at Mercedes’ Brixforth engine facility, all the test benches are reportedly being used for next year’s turbo V6 development. (GMM)

Subbed by AJN.


  • McLarenfan

    So was the Nutty Giancarlo Minardi so nuts after all.

  • uh

    Its not traction control so Minardi was a sour grapes nutty yes.

  • captain tortuga

    the last i heard is that RBR has an engine-mapping that shuts down cylinders. (4 of them) the air of the ‘dropped’ cylinders, is blown through a ‘blown diffuser’
    This blown diffuser is supposed to be legal because the rules state that a ‘hot air blown diffuser’ is forbidden.

    however, when the cylinders are shut down, that air is not considered ‘hot’ and thus it is eligible to use for the blown diffuser.

  • Taskmaster

    Tough call. Since nothing learned now for just 4 more races will transfer to 2014 it seems a waste of time. However, if Lotus over takes them in the WCC, millions are lost. The classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. I’d like to see them recover, pitting Lotus, Mercedes and Ferrari in a 3 way battle to that 2nd place in the WCC to close the normally aspirated V8 era.

    As far as cylinder cutting, it’s not that simple. They are all using that technique, including Merc. now. There is something more going on at part throttle settings than is evident to observers on the outside.

    And yes, Mindardi is wrong. This is not a “traction control” issue, it’s about activating the diffuser earlier in the corner – a completely different topic.

  • ignorant numb brain

    yes what is ‘more’ going on, is (the rumour anyway)that the air in the cut cyls is separated and directed to the blown diffuser.

  • ignorant numb brain

    @ taskmaster :

    And if you cut down 1 bank, the air is also very easy to separate from the ‘hot’ air from the other bank.

  • Taskmaster

    No way are they cutting an entire bank, that would destroy the engine. They are also not separating air from the cut cylinders anywhere, as the header is what it is, one tube per cylinder, to one collector per side, per the regulations, no extra pipes roaming around. The cylinders are cut per the program to minimize vibration. I can tell you from first hand knowledge, do this wrong, and the engine becomes a grenade faster than you can say “oh, sh….!”

  • McLarenfan

    @Taskmaster & uh, I was not saying the Nutter Giancarlo Minardi was correct in the definition of TC but he was clearly right in the trickery department I should have made that clear I also agree if you cut 4 cylinders without knowing your business you add another engine to the scrap pile.

  • Adriana

    If that’s the case,” Tontto Wolff said, “we need to find out why we have missed something” I can tell Tontto Wolff what they have been missing , they lost time criticizing RBR , that if they cheat , that if they help Vettel over Webber , and while they lost time developing they own car , RBR and Renault were working together to make the car faster , even if Renault engine is less powerful than Mercedes engine ! work is what they are missing and concentration in their own car development !

  • captain tortuga

    @ taskmaster ; I’m not an automotive engineer ;)

    I do wonder though, if you ‘cut’ one bank, why it would scrap the engine? Is it because of balance problems created by the fact that the crank-shaft has no ‘counter-load’ from the pistons that are not firing?

    Because the way i see it the whole engine keeps turning, the 4 cylinders just don’t fire for a short while.

    And because of what you said, the header going into the collector pipe, i would say, 1 bank uses the same collector pipe.
    So from that point of view it would be easy to separate the ‘cold-air’ . It might cause problems dividing the air again into the diffuser. but maybe they can blow one side of the diffuser depending on the corner (l/r) (im also not very familiar with aerodynamic laws haha) but i can imagine that you blow only one side of the diffuser to gain the extra downforce on the side of the car that most needs it. So it would blow the left side in a right hand corner.

    but im most curious to know why the engine would be scrapped if 1 bank fails to fire (intentionally)

  • captain tortuga

    @ taskmaster : if , as you say, that by regulation there are no additional pipes allowed, separating the cold air might be an issue indeed. But then again.. teams like RebBull/Ferrari/MB have linguistic professors on the payroll, that might just have found a ‘different interpretation’.. of the word ‘pipe’ ;)

  • Beer Monster

    Whatever Renault is doing with its engines to help RB & Lotus doesn’t seem to be working for Williams!

  • McLarenfan

    @captain tortuga, first twisting of the crankshaft is a danger running 4 of a V8 by cutting a bank. The cylinder firing will not be synchronized. They would need to knock out every second number to minimize the pause in between firing. most V8 running at V4 do so by the computer to knock out the cylinder and can do it randomly so it doesn’t damage the engine. Most of the newer road engines are built stronger so they can be used in this way without scrapping loads of parts and costly repairs for the manufacturers.

  • Taskmaster

    The forces in a V8 engine work in balance to oppose one another to keep the engine in balance. If you cut one side completely (which they do not do), the forces from the opposite side would break the block in half within a few fractions of a second. What they do do, is cut cylinders in a programmed series usually from one side then the other to prevent destructive vibration and force imbalances, while keeping the exhaust flow working. The headers are set up to time the pulses of the exhaust from one cylinder to create a low pressure pocket that draws the gases from the next cylinder – tuned to a narrow RPM band width. There is only one pipe from each cylinder into the collector, and one collector per side – no other pipes from the exhaust or intake exist. There is a Helmholtz chamber at the collector that is used to collect and release pressure to create flow at another specific RPM (lower than the collector design). The airflow of the exhaust is used to create a low pressure flow over the top and around the sides of the diffuser. This draws the high pressure air from under the car, sucking the car down onto the track. This would be disrupted and ineffective if only one side were activated at a time. And this explanation is hyper over simplified – the real story fills thousands of pages. The lesson here? Speculation as to what one team might be doing, by non-experts (including yours truly), is irrelevant and truly a waste of time.