Williams, Mercedes-Benz sign new long-term engine deal

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Just when you were getting excited about the Williams / Renault combination, the team have taken another bold step by jettisoning their historic partner in favor of working with their recently departed investor, Toto Wolff, by inking a new deal with Mercedes as their 2014 engine supplier. Apparently the departure of Wolff was on amicable terms.

Under the terms of the agreement, Williams will be supplied with a Mercedes-Benz Power Unit (Internal Combustion Engine plus Energy Recovery System) by Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) based in Brixworth, UK. Williams will continue to manufacture its own transmission.

Williams F1 Team Founder and Team Principal Sir Frank Williams said;

“I’m delighted to announce our new association with Mercedes-Benz for the 2014 Formula One season and beyond. Mercedes-Benz has been one of the sport’s most successful engine suppliers and we believe that they will have an extremely competitive engine package. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Renault for their continued hard work since we renewed our engine partnership at the beginning of the 2012 season. We have enjoyed a strong relationship that has resulted in much success over the years, including powering us to winning ways once again last year at the Spanish Grand Prix.”

The 2014 regulations will set the sport’s engineers the challenge of completing a 300 km race distance on a fuel load of just 100 kg. To do so, teams will switch from naturally aspirated 2.4 litre V8 engines to 1.6 litre V6 turbocharged hybrid Power Units. To achieve power outputs comparable to current levels from the new Power Unit will require a 30% increase in energy efficiency.

This step forward will be largely achieved through an Energy Recovery System (ERS) that will be able to deploy ten times more energy than the current KERS. The new ERS will recover energy from both the exhaust turbine and the rear axle, as well as deploying energy back to both.

Toto Wolff, Executive Director of MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS, said:

“The proud heritage of Williams and the company’s commitment to technological excellence make it a perfect long-term partner for Mercedes-Benz under the new powertrain regulations. It is a win-win situation for both HPP and Williams, which will ensure HPP is able to supply at least three teams on a long-term basis under the new regulations and could open interesting new perspectives for technology transfer. We look forward to enjoying much success together over the coming years.”

As for Renault? Well, they took the high road and explained that losing a team actually fits their plan much more succinctly:

‘We would like to thank Williams for the warmth it has extended to Renault over the last two years and wish the team the very best for the future. Williams and Renault have a long history together and quickly recaptured its winning spirit in the early days of the rekindled partnership with victory in Spain 2012. We will continue to actively work with the team until the Brazilian Grand Prix in November to end the second incarnation of the partnership with results that do justice to its reputation.

‘For Renault Sport F1, we have stated on numerous occasions that we would supply up to five teams if there was a requirement to do so, but this would not make sense economically or be ideal for our resources. Three, or up to four, teams is the ideal for us so the departure of Williams normalizes the situation and makes things much clearer from our side. We will announce the next team within a matter of days, and then confirm the final stage before the end of June. We remain incredibly motivated about the challenge of the 2014 engines.’

Seems feasible but I must be honest, I was really enjoying that historic name of Williams / Renault and it is a shame to see that end so soon. In the end, Formula One is all about money and perhaps the Mercedes deal will suit the team better. It also is worth mentioning that McLaren recently announced they would be ending their 20-year relationship with Mercedes at the end of 2014 so the German car maker needed to fill the void.

If we were basing the move on the current engine format, I’d say Williams is in good shape but the new regulations are a crap shoot at this point and I echo F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone when he said that the engine makers could get it wrong and that will be a massive price to pay for many months until they get the format right. Let’s hope Mercedes are quick out of the box come Australia in 2014.

 

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