Mercedes engines in pain? The fault lies with Red Bull …

the charm of motorsportand of F1 in particular, it is partly due to the perfect alchemy between the talent of the “risk riders” and the ingenuity of those who design and develop the most technologically advanced cars on the planet earth. Since the dawn of time, the path to achieving excellence has involved acquiring human resources from teams at the pinnacle of success.

A successful case, very dear to the fans of the red, was the passage of Rory Byrne And Ross Brawn from the Benetton at the court of Maranello in 1997, real architects of the domain Ferrari of the following years enhanced by the enormous contribution of the phenomenon of Kerpen.

Michael Schumacher in action with Benetton

There FIAin order to stem an immediate knowledge transferhas long established the gardening leave, a provision designed to protect the wealth of knowledge in the availability of key figures about to change their shirts. Over the years, the technician market has become a widely used practice by all teams and the gardening leave lasting 6 months, it has become an anachronistic and useless provision.

In the turbo-hybrid era, Mercedes’ undisputed leadership inevitably attracted the attention of rivals to key figures in the engine department, who became fundamental pawns in the process of insourcing the know-how behind the successes of the silver arrows.

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Power Unit Mercedes W13

In this sense, the Red Bullas part of the ambitious project to internalize engine management activities Hondahas recruited several leading technicians of the Mercedes starting from Ben Hodgkinson former chief of mechanical engineers of the Anglo-German team who assumed the position of technical director of the R programand Bull Powertrains.

Migration of many brains from Brixworthsite Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrainstowards Milton Keyneshas raised many questions about the impact of these losses in relation to the reliability problems faced by the power unit of the world champion team in last season’s fiery final. An absolutely new scenario for Mercedeswhich on the eve of the final round of Abu Dhabi had used 11 internal combustion engines (ICE) instead of the 6 available for both pilots.

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The Mercedes powertrains headquarters in Brixworth

The disappointing performance of the silver arrows in the inaugural grand prix of Bahrain and in the following stage a Jeddahalso the result of a poor aerodynamic balance, could suggest that the bleeding of human resources in the engine department also had repercussions on the design of the 2022 turbo-hybrid unit. rumorsthe power unit Mercedes it has not yet reached acceptable levels of reliability similarly to what was highlighted in the finale of last season.

The contingent impossibility of fighting for the very first positions, together with a decent advantage over midfield of the grid, determined a conservative management of the engines aimed at maximizing the results in the first races. Basically the men led by Toto Wolff consider it appropriate to give priority to reliability in the presence of a deficient aerodynamic design which in any case would not be able to enhance the performance of the power unit at the maximum level of thrust.

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An image of the Honda Power Unit mounted on the Red Bull RB16B, season 2021

Christian Horner has recently declared, in a cryptic way, that he does not have sufficient elements to judge whether the current problems on the engine front of the three-pointed star may depend on the progressive recruitment of technicians Mercedes. In a broader sense, the team principal from the Red Bullstressed that the ambitious program Powertrains requested the support of professionals from different teams and also professionals from outside F1 for a total of 170 new hires, of which 45 from Mercedes.

Despite the brilliant victory of Max Verstappen to Jeddaheven at home Red Bull the concerns of the motor engineering sector are high in light of the technical problems occurring on the engine units of the Alpha Tauri. The upcoming races, starting from the next round in Australia, will clarify whether the ambitious process of internalising the management and development of turbo-hybrid units will be an added value for the Austrian team’s ambitions or a limit due to a newly established technical sector. four months ago.


F1-Author: Roberto Cecere@robertofunoat

Photo: F1, Honda, Mercedes AMG F1

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