Zetsche sees speedy uptake of F1 tech in Mercedes models

Mercedes' racecars have won all six F1 events this year.

Dieter Zetsche foresees Mercedes models benefiting quicker than ever from the automaker’s participation in Formula One.

F1’s switch to 1.6-liter V-6 turbocharged gasoline engines from 2.4-liter V-8 normally aspirated units has made the racecars more like high-end production cars.

That means Mercedes is gaining invaluable experience under extreme conditions on how to get superior performance from fewer cylinders, turbos and hybrids.

Zetsche says the know-how will help Mercedes downsize the engines in its most powerful models, such as those from tuning subsidiary AMG, without sacrificing performance.

“We still have some relatively big displacements engines with no turbo, but in the longer run we will see the same [F1-inspired] development on our upper-end production cars,” Zetsche said.

The CEO is very impressed with Mercedes’s F1 success -- the team has all six races this season -- given the challenges every team in the series faced coming into the 2014 series.

“Despite using 30 percent less fuel, having less-efficient aerodynamics by regulation and so on, we obtained lap times that are as fast as last year, so we have accomplished what we have targeted as far as performance is concerned,” he said.

Zetsche also said it is nice to be chased rather than the other way around.

“We have seen the exhaust pipes of our competitors for a number of years and we have been working hard to change that,” he said.

Now Mercedes's biggest challenge is maintaining its huge lead.

You can reach Luca Ciferri at lciferri@crain.com

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