Mercedes wants to face Volkswagen in Formula 1

Mercedes would accept simplified engine tuning from 2026 in order to draw Volkswagen onto the Formula 1 grid. The statement came from Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff on the same weekend in which a crucial meeting took place around new F1 regulations.

Mercedes wants a new opponent? The discussion in question involved members of the F1 management, FIA officials and representatives of committed manufacturers but also potential newcomers, including Volkswagen. The Turbo-Hybrid powertrain used in Formula 1 has been under the hood of single-seaters since 2014. It has two very controversial systems, called MGU-H and MGU-K. The proposed engine simplification consists of removing the MGU-H from the current engine blocks. The MGU-H (Motor Generator Unit-Heat) is the part that recovers and stores energy to and from the turbocharger. The MGU-K is the element that stores the kinetic energy of the braking system and deploys it to the wheels.

As more automakers move away from combustion engines, powertrain renewal is key to ensuring Formula 1 remains relevant. According to our colleagues at Motorsport, the boss of Mercedes F1 said the removal of the MGU-H was a compromise, but that it would be done if it helped bring Volkswagen into the discipline. “I cannot speak for anyone else, but at Mercedes, we are ready to enter into negotiations in order to facilitate the entry of the Volkswagen group into our sport. But there are several other subjects where compromises have to be found ”.

Audi or Lamborghini in F1?

The Volkswagen group would have been represented in this discussion by two of its brands: Audi and Porsche. Formula 1 has adopted hybrid technology, but a switch to 100% electric motors would change the whole DNA of the sport. Instead, the discipline is focusing on biofuels for the future. This year’s cars use a blend of 5.75% biofuel. The mixture could go down to 10%. In short, the F1 cars will run at the E10.

The plan is to switch to a third-generation biofuel, also known as e-fuel, by 2030. Such a move could tempt Porsche, which is already experimenting with its own e-fuel racing program.

With the departure of Honda at the end of 2021, Formula 1 will only have three engine manufacturers: Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault. Red Bull will become a fourth engine maker by buying out plans from the Honda block, but it’s unclear how their technology could translate into a mass production model, as is the case for Mercedes.

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