Formula 1 is constantly evolving with new regulations being introduced nearly every season. Therefore, it is imperative that teams are able to adapt and ensure that their cars have the best combinations of power and efficiency to remain competitive. In this video, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team details the challenges arising from the development of its Energy Recovery System (ERS).

As a bit of background info; regulation changes were implemented in Formula 1 in 2014 by the FIA to ensure that the technology within Formula 1 is well-aligned with the road car technology of the day. The two key changes saw teams having just 100 kg of fuel at their disposal for the entire race distance, with a maximum flow rate of 100 kg/hour. Therefore, ensuring maximum energy efficiency is key. Part of this includes the storage of the energy in the ERS.

Transferring rotational energy to electrical energy and storing it in batteries is no mean feat. It gets increasingly difficult to do so as efficiently as possible so less energy is wasted. Therefore, Mercedes-AMG Petronas High Performance Powertrains (HPP) division used the best lithium-ion cells (also used for road cars) in its battery pack.

Mercedes AMG Petronas ERS

The team also needed to increase the power density delivered by the ERS system by a factor of 10 thanks to the new regulations. Therefore, the team focused on increasing the power and energy density on the lithium-ion cells. With improvements made to the battery cell pack, the HPP team managed to significantly decrease the cell pack’s size by up to three-quarters (originally the size of an engine), with the ability to light up 10,000 light bulbs.

During each race, the batteries are charged and discharged up to seven times, so the team needs to get the energy in and out of the system as quickly as possible, which is why the energy transfer has to be as efficient as it is.