The world champions Mercedes have explained the way how they operate their 2018 F1 engines after their most powerfull qualifying mode has been one of the main topics in the first race of the season in Australia.
Mercedes’s most powerfull engine mode, which provides a additional burst of power in short term, but also uses fuel and engine more than any other mode, is their specialty since the new hybrid turbo era came into force in 2014 and the subject once again grabbed atention because of the huge qualifying advantage that Lewis Hamilton had in Australia.
Hamilton said on Thursday that he expects the new Mercedes qualification mode would be a ‘party mode’, ie expecting it to be fun to drive as drivers can achieve maximum speeds and best lap times with that mode.
Although Hamilton completed his brutal Q3 lap in only second attempt, he said he used the same engine mode in Q2 and Q3, which did not convince some people like Christian Horner and Helmut Marko from Red Bull.
Mercedes has only three basic engine modes
After many speculations after Australia, Mercedes decided to explain how their engine is working under certain circumstances and in which situations they use the most powerful, qualifying mode which Hamilton has called ‘party mode’.
The strongest mode is used ‘depending on the competitive context’, which is why it is sometimes used during qualifying and sometimes only in Q3 ‘.
In the vast majority of situations, Mercedes uses one (most conservative) mode of operation, which is used on free practices, for most of the qualifying and most of the race.
But in the aforementioned Q2 or Q3, at the start of the race, in fast in or out laps around pitstops, Mercedes is using the most powerful engine mode which is something other engine manufacturers can’t replicate with a such a strong effect.
There are three basic engine modes that have different settings that affect how MGU-K and MGU-H regenerating and deploying energy, and the start race example is where ‘full deployment’ is used.
Engines need to be managed properly
An ideal situation in which Mercedes, as well as other manufacturers, wants to find themselves is clean air that provides optimum engine operating conditions. But in the situation while the driver is trying to closely follow the car in front of him, the engine does not have enough air, so drivers must use conservative settings, similar to the ones they use behind the safety car.
Mercedes, with its factory W09 cars, as well as the Force of India and Williams cars, dictate the mileage limitations for the engines and they call it the ‘phase document’.
The fourth race of the season in Baku for Mercedes is the first “engine-sensitive” track dominated by “long straights and acceleration zones”.
That is why Mercedes believes it will be interesting to see how the story of the engine modes is going to develop as the season goes on, especially when the F1 comes to the tracks that are sensitive to engine power.