Formula One engine technology is a closely guarded secret. Even years after a car is retired teams are never keen to unveil the lessons they learned with any rivals. Tim White of Garage 59 is a former Formula One engineer for David Coulthard when the two worked for McLaren. At the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed (click here to see some photographic highlights) White chatted with YouTube channel High Performance Academy at length about the race-winning McLaren-Mercedes MP4/15 engine tech.
The Mercedes powerplant in the 2000 season McLaren racecar was a naturally aspirated 3,0-litre V10, as mandated by the rules. The engine revved to a dizzying 18 400 r/min at full chat and produced just over 670 kW. Click here to listen to the engine in all its screaming glory. Pneumatic valve springs were required to make it possible to rev to these insane engine speeds. Modern F1 cars are limited to ‘just’ 15 000 r/min, though teams seldom run engines that high in an effort to increase longevity. Current F1 cars are turbocharged and feature an electrical component for added power.
Flat out the MP4/15 could do an incredible 360 km/h, but also trundle through the hairpin at Monaco at walking speed. Listen to White explain how the engine was tuned for a wide operating window, and how drivers used the hand-operated clutches to make perfect pull-aways.
All the info on the McLaren-Mercedes MP4/15 engine tech can be learned from the video below: