Formula 1 introduced cutting-edge hybrid engines in 2014, incorporating an electric turbocharger and powerful brake energy recovery system, which aligned the technological journey of the sport with that of the automotive industry. In its first year, the Mercedes-Benz F1 Power Unit achieved a thermal efficiency of 44 percent; today, the hybrid engine runs at a thermal efficiency of more than 50 percent, making it one of the most efficient internal combustion engines ever built. Mercedes-Benz engineers around the world use the knowledge and technology gained from the F1 Power Unit development to enhance road car engines, for example by further developing combustion processes from the F1 engine so that they can be used in highly efficient drivetrains in production cars.
Another important part of the collaboration between Mercedes-Benz road-car engineers and their race-car colleagues in the UK are the complex electric and electronic systems that both F1 and FE use. Engineers on both sides benefit from the efficient digital development process of drivetrain components that has been established over the years and the regular exchange on new materials and designs for high-performance electric motors.
The cooperation is not restricted to high-tech drivetrain components though. Engineers work together to grow their understanding of simulation and real-world data correlation that helps to improve the digital development process for both road cars and race cars. Developing cars digitally becomes increasingly more important as simulation tools become more powerful; digital transformation has become a pivotal element for Mercedes-Benz in both road car and race car development. In Formula 1, the regulations limit the amount of real-world testing teams can do. Before the start of a new season, the new car is allowed a maximum of 48 hours of on-track testing, so the vast majority of the test and development process has to be done digitally or on test dynos, making the digital development process an important foundation of a successful F1 season.