Report claims Mercedes V6 turbo producing 900 horspepower

Is this engine delivering 900 horsepower?

Is this engine delivering 900 horsepower?

The new Mercedes V6 turbo power unit, which powered Nico Rosberg to an easy victory at the season opening Australian Grand Prix, could be producing much more horse power than was earlier believed with rivals ‘guesstimating’ 900 bhp to be on tap.

Before travelling to Melbourne, Team Chairman Niki Lauda revealed that the basic 1.6 litre Mercedes unit is producing about 580 hp.

As it is known that the sophisticated energy-recovery or ‘ERS’ side adds 160hp to the equation, then Mercedes’ 2014 power unit equates to about 740hp at present.

However, the German newspaper Bild reports that Mercedes’ rivals believes the monster Mercedes unit is actually producing up to 900 horse power when operating at full tilt.

Asked about the 740 versus 900 figures, Renault-powered Red Bull’s Helmut Marko said: “For sure the engine has more power than they are saying.”

The Austrian was speaking on Saturday, where despite Daniel Ricciardo’s surprising feat of splitting the two Mercedes on the grid, world champion Sebastian Vettel failed even to make the top ten.

“We tried some new software but it did not work,” said Marko. “Mercedes is having no problems with the engine and has power in excess. They are able to do a strategic race.” (GMM)

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Content on by: staff & contributors, Reuters syndication, GMM service, Getty Images, Formula 1 teams, sponsors & organisations.

  • Robbel


  • KevinW

    If I have my calcs right, 1kg of race fuel has the potential of roughly 18hp. That means that 100kg has the raw potential of 1800hp. Subtracting the 160hp of the KERS contribution from a 900HP total, the result is 740hp. That’s an efficiency of 41% at the crank with mechanical losses included. This is not out of line with a forced induction limited range ICE with pneumatic valve-train and modern electronic controls revving 15,000 RPM – so is not actually that far fetched. I personally know of race engines testing at 40%, and read studies indicating that with the right combination of modern materials and controls, 50% is not completely impossible.

    That said, the FIA has proven itself incapable of regulating the sport with simple technologies in play. They failed to do this with regulation of aerodynamic aspects of the sport. They failed to anticipate the step nose, and now the nose shapes experienced this season. They failed to regulate the evolution of the V8 formula under the “reliability improvement” game, resulting in a dramatic change of those systems over time. Now, they have brought out a PU specification that is so far over their head that insuring there is at least a smell of relative equality among producers is virtually impossible. The FIA is destroying F1 through inept committee decision making, arrogant over-reaching, and political pandering. It has also delivered to fans a bland, lifeless version of F1 as a result of its failing to anticipate the impact this new formula has on the presence of these cars on track in race trim.

    All that aside – Kudos to Mercedes, its invested what it takes to capitalize on the situation to develop a beautifully well integrated PU package unlikely to be equaled under the current state of F1. They’ve not only forwarded the concept of ultra high performance hybrid technology, they’ve advanced efficiency performance that is very likely to translate into road car applications – at least for a few expensive high performance sports car customers. My condolences to Renault, and best wishes to Ferrari as they both struggle to overcome the formidable deficit they find themselves under. It’s ironic that Renault is being undone by the very specification it lobbied to see put in place. Perhaps one should be wary of what one wishes for.

  • Hugo Lafreniere

    The FIA sucks at everything. Wanting to cut costs yet introducing the most complex (and super costly) power unit this side of the space shuttle. Way to go, retards.

  • nakagoli

    Rumour, rumour, rumour…! Lauda let slip the other day that the bhp of the actual engine was 540 bhp, to which you can add 160 bhp of electrical assistance. That makes 700 bhp. There was no way that the merc was developing 900 bhp. Still, its a lovely fairy tale.

  • KevinW

    540HP is only an efficiency of 30% using the race formulated 92 octane fuels they have in the tank. A road car that gets 40MPG uses about 3.3kg per hour at 60MPH. Say that road car needs roughly 13.5HP to maintain 60mph. That’s 13.5Hp from 3.3kg of fuel, or about 31% efficiency (using 13hp/kg street regular gas w/10% ethanol), and that’s not at peak power, which is likely to be better. Direct injection street engines can attain 35% with mechanical valve-trains. Assuming the F1 engine, using direct injection, forced induction, efficient lubrication, and pneumatic valve-train, tuned to a limited narrow RPM band, spinning at 15,000 RPM delivers 38%, that equates to 684 at the flywheel, plus the KERS of 160HP, for 844HP total. 900 may be a stretch, but its not entirely impossible.

    Somewhere along the way, the 2nd law of thermodynamics is going to present a ceiling at or around 83%, according to Carnot. Some large diesel engines are attaining 60% today. Super effiecient engines tend to be either large or operate in a narrow RPM range. F1 is one of those, big marine engines are the other. It’s an interesting aspect of the new formula, assuming we were all engineering students and not fans of motor-racing.

  • Robbel


  • nakagoli

    The problem with your theory is that the engines are not running at 15,000 rpm! they are running at 10,500 rpm.

  • KevinW

    Nice summary. In thinking about it, I revisited the fuel regs. They are using 87 R+M/2, not the 92 I assumed, or the 96 you noted (minor point). It is also less energetic by content than I assumed. Compared to some stuff I’ve used in the past, its pretty weak tea actually. That said, the best they can likely attain is around 16.5 HP/kg or in the 660HP range (@40%), even assuming it is fresh brewed for each weekend (a big factor in race gas prep). So the range is indeed likely in the 628 to 660 range, plus KERS for a total of 768 to 820 at full chat. What’s a few horsepower between friends. Looks like the 900HP estimate is a bit off.

    Its actually pretty impressive when you consider that if they consume 95kg of fuel over a race distance of 189 miles, they will be delivering roughly 5.5 MPG average. I’ve had cars not deliver that as daily drivers (when gas was cheap and I was young and really stupid). Indy cars in the 1970s were managing only 2MPG by rule. So, while the new cars may be quiet and boring, they are at least somewhat powerful and fuel efficient.

    Cool work-down BTW.

  • Robbel


  • KevinW

    That may be what they sound like, but they are allowed 15,000RPM. That’s been a bug of perception I’ve commented on before. A V8 turning 18,000 RPM generates a whopping 72,000 exhaust pulses per minute, 1,200 a second. That’s where the howl we all love comes from. A 6 cylinder motor at 15,000 RPM generates 45,000 exhaust pulses per minute, or 750 a second. This, plus the muffling effect of the exhaust and you have engines that sound very slow (37.5% fewer pulses per second) and quieter at the same time. They just figured we’d accept it. The real noise makers were the V10s turning 19,200RPM. That was 96.000 pulses a minute or 1,600 per second, or more than double the V6, and 33.3% more than the V8s. Those V10s were the penultimate shreakers of F1. Even the slower revving V12s of the day couldn’t match that.

  • Jerry Holloway

    Good point about Renault pushing for the rule change. Audi had a hand in the whole thing before they reneged, or so I’ve heard.