Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the first images of the 2014 Formula 1 power unit that it believes will put the "motor back in motorsport."
As dyno testing of its new V6 1.6-liter turbocharged unit continues at its Brixworth, UK facility, Mercedes says early indications from its work are pointing toward an exciting era for grand prix racing once the 2014 rules come into force.
Andy Cowell, managing director of Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines, dismissed fears that the new power units would not deliver as exciting a sound as the current V8 engines, and predicted thrills for fans and challenges for drivers.
"The engines are going to be loud but, I think, sweet-sounding," he said. "The frequency will be higher and, with the turbocharger running at 125,000rpm, they will be loud. When you are stood next to it on the dyno it is not quiet and you need ear defenders.
"There will be a new quality to the racing, too. It will edge toward a thinking drivers' formula to get the most from the car and the available fuel energy.
"The engines will also deliver much more torque – especially on the exit of the corners. Cars with more power than grip coming out of the corners – that is something that we all enjoy. "They will also put F1 back at the cutting edge of new technology, which is what the fans want."
Red Bull technical chief Adrian Newey suggested last year that the power units would become the critical factor in deciding the outcome of the 2014 championship. Cowell (RIGHT) believes it is too early to be specific about the impact the engines will have, but is confident that the importance of the engine manufacturer would be greater than it was now, a move he welcomed.
"We are putting the motor back in motorsport, but to what extent we will only know in 2014," he said. "It will definitely have more of an influence."
The new power units will produce the same 750hp figure of the current engines but a larger percentage of that will come from Energy Recovery Systems. The current KERS currently produces 80hp for 6.7 seconds per lap, while the new ERS will deliver 161 hp for 33.3 seconds per lap.
Cowell said: "Today it is difficult to be quick without KERS. For 2014, it will be impossible to go racing without ERS."
OPINION: It sounds great!
Jonathan Noble, AUTOSPORT Group F1 Editor
People normally say you should believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see. But today was an exception to that rule as selected Formula 1 media reps, including me, got a first chance to listen to exactly what a 2014 V6 turbo engine is going to sound like.
For years we have heard conflicting stories about the audio qualities (or lack of them) of the new 2014 V6 turbo engines. In one corner were Bernie Ecclestone and a few race promoters, who suggested they would sound terrible and needed to be dropped. In the other corner were the engine manufacturers who insisted the power units would deliver a different but still satisfying noise.
At Brixworth today, Mercedes-Benz delivered its definitive answer to the debate when it played the audio from a dyno simulated lap of the Monza track. And the smiles around the table of those hearing it for the first time delivered a conclusive answer that fans will have little to worry about.
Yes, the high-pitched shriek of the V8 engines hitting the rev limiter at 18,000rpm may be gone, but the new deeper noise is certainly nothing to be disappointed about.
There is still a solidness to the sound; one that will be amplified when the engines are put onto racecars with proper exhausts and allowed to play flat-out on racetracks around the world.
Mercedes' engine chief Andy Cowell reckons the new engines actually sound "sweeter" than the current V8s, and no one present today could disagree.
The state of secrecy in F1 means that audio of the engines will not be ready for public consumption for a while – for even the sound could provide an advantage to rivals – but fans should rest assured that there is little to fear from what is coming in 2014.
You will still need your ear plugs next year. And that is great news.