MGU-H is to be dropped from F1 and the new engine unit deployment is delayed until 2026. In this section, we look into the details of MGU-H and how it’s helping Redbull and Volkswagen to attain the ever eluding partnership.
What is MGU-H?
It stands for Motor Generator Unit – Heat. It captures thermal energy generated from the engine’s exhaust. The wasted gas produced in the exhaust is not wasted and the heat energy in these gases are converted into electrical energy. This electrical energy is then used to charge the battery which can top up the engine performance.
The Current turbo hybrid era is heavily dependent on the electrical Energy from MGU-H and MGU-K. These are controlled by the ERS. The ERS control unit includes AC/DC and DC/AC converters to convert electricity between the battery and MGU-K/MGU-H.
The Energy Recovery System can be seen working on the cars when the red light on the back of the car keeps flashing during harvesting.
Why was it Dropped?
Two things cost and improve reliability. The MGU-H part alone costs around 1 million dollars to develop and manufacture. This along with another 1 million for the engine parts makes a total of 2 million for the total engine development.
Eliminating the MGU-H brings down the engine costs to 1 million and in the cost cap era, the teams need to do so. Apart from the cost factor, the sustainability factor to make the sport carbon neutral by 2030 and the need to use biofuels require a more simplified design of the engine.
Though it’s considered a backward step by many in the sport, it is the way to go. No Engineer in the team will allow any usable energy to go to waste instead of increasing the power of the engine. But its removal gains outweigh the present gains commercially.
The proposal of the MGU-H removal also emphasis on sounds of the Engine. Its removal will increase the sound as the gas through the exhaust is more. With MGU-H removal, the MGU-K will be made more powerful, with a focus on manual driver deployment of the additional power, similar to the way KERS was used.
Though Ferrari and Mercedes have initially accepted the removal of MGU-H, several topics need to be discussed. If the compromise cannot be found it will probably revert to governance for the 2026 regulation.
If everything goes to plan, the advantage for Redbull is imminent as it viably helps Volkswagen for its partnership with Redbull for Engine Development. We all know Honda is leaving F1 at the end of the 2021 season. Though it can do a technology transfer in Redbull it is still hasn’t worked out all the details of its engine manufacturing process.
Having Volkswagen by Redbull’s side can increase the tactical advantage for the new engine manufacturing process. Volkswagen was reluctant to join F1 due to the increased cost associated with the development of the MGU-H and its development. Only 4 manufacturers are all in F1 have currently made this work after years of development. A new engine manufacturer coming into the sport will be left behind in terms of the components if there are complicated parts like MGU-H and other components.
Though Volkswagen is about four years down the line to becoming the Engine Manufacturer in F1, its hesitancy for collaboration is now gone and it can be an advantage for Redbull from next season as Volkswagen will be keen on partnership as soon as Honda leaves F1 by the end of this season.