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The Trickle-Down Effect of F1 Technology

While the cutting-edge technology in F1 may seem far away from what we use in our everyday lives, the trickle-down effect of F1 tech has never been stronger than it is right now.

This is particularly since the move to V6 Turbo Hybrid Power Units in 2014, with engineers at Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth working closely with their counterparts at Mercedes in Germany to bring improved engine technology to the road.

And it will keep on evolving as knowledge and learnings continue to be found. When you think about it, the technology in F1 is really put through its paces and tested to the absolute limit - hence, why it's known as the "fastest R&D lab on earth".

The F1 environment is one of the most intense and extreme testbeds for technical innovation, so what better way to find out about the performance, efficiency and reliability of these technologies before they hit the real world. Almost like how we crash-test parts before they are put on the car and sent out on track.

But what real-world examples can we use to understand just how important F1 know-how is becoming to the road car world?

Learnings taken from F1 have already been on our motorways and twisty country roads for a little while. Particularly related to Plug-In Hybrids, with Mercedes-Benz offering a wide range of Plug-In Hybrid models that feature learnings taken directly from F1's development of the Hybrid Power Unit systems.

Another example of F1's trickle-down effect will feature in Mercedes-AMG's future high-performance cars, with an electric exhaust gas turbocharger being used in the next generation of AMGs as they look to their electric future.

This has been developed on the racetrack in F1: It uses knowledge and tech from the F1 car's ERS system and particularly the MGU-H, which turns energy from the exhaust gasses into electrical power. The system will improve immediate response from idle speed and eliminate turbo lag in future AMG models.

But it's not just cars, because kinetic energy recovery - where brake energy is used to produce electrical power - is being used in buses too, to make cities greener. These developments have been helped by the incredible evolution of battery technology.

In F1, batteries have come a long way since manufacturers began developing them for the KERS units, with early energy stores from 2007 weighing 107kg and having an efficiency of 39%. Now, they weigh just 20kg and have 96% efficiency, and those learnings and developments have been useful and transferrable to the road car industry.

Undoubtedly one of the most obvious and impressive examples of F1 know-how hitting the streets is the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE, a hypercar powered by an F1 Power Unit. The hypercar is packed with F1 technology, F1-inspired innovations or learnings taken straight from the track.

After all, the trickle-down effect isn't just about a physical component or product. A lot of F1 tech isn't directly transferrable, but plenty of the learnings and inspiration can be taken from the innovative designs and concepts that appear out on track every other Sunday.

The Project ONE features a modified version of the 1.6-litre V6 Turbo engine (the Internal Combustion Unit from our F1 Power Units) to make sure it's road-legal, while there are also F1-style MGU-H and MGU-K hybrid components on the car and also an eight-speed, single-clutch, automated manual gearbox that takes inspiration from the transmissions on our F1 cars.

Featuring an F1 Power Unit also brings with it the remarkable thermal efficiency of these modern-day engines. The previous era's V8 engines produced around 30 percent thermal efficiency, which means the amount of fuel energy converted into useful work. A current F1 Power Unit reaches a thermal efficiency of more than 50 percent, making it one of the most efficient internal combustion engines on the planet.

It may not always be obvious, but the influence that F1 has on the automotive industry is becoming more and more relevant - and we're excited to see what other learnings and developments make their way into our everyday lives!