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How Mercedes F1's Genius Split Turbo Came To Be

We’ve covered the numerous benefits of the Mercedes Formula One team’s revolutionary split turbo before, but how did the team come up with the idea? Let Mercedes turbocharging team leader Pierre Godof explain why they split the turbo’s components up, and the unlikely sources the team looked to for advice.


That’s right—Daimler’s trucks division weighed in on a Formula One car’s design. Splitting the turbo and compressor gave them the solution they needed to keep everything cool and package everything behind the driver more tightly, including the engine, transmission and the generator for the car’s hybrid system.


Being able to package everything so compactly has been an enormous performance advantage for Mercedes’ Formula One cars as well, allowing them to run a car with smaller air inlets and narrower bodywork for less drag.

Godof hints that similar packaging may be coming to road cars in the future as well. Given their input, hopefully the Daimler trucks division gets first dibs.

GIF via YouTube

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Dr. Strangegun


3cyl 1.0L, split turbo, hybrid system.

Generator attached to the exhaust turbine.

That technically makes it co-gen, because the turbo assists directly in moving the car; also allows such things as power spooling, spool RPM control under full throttle/during shifting, and even anti-coking by spinning the spool slowly after shutdown until it cools off. No BOV required, just increase the generator load.

So many nifty things could be done.... hell, could even add some manner of gas generator to the exhaust that kicks on when conditions are right, either with extra fuel, as steam generation, maybe with DEF fluid and a leaned-out mixture (yes, on a gas motor). Yeah, that’s super-cruising mode... lean the engine, inject DEF in the exhaust stream ahead of the turbo for NOx control and extra exhaust volume, and divert most of the generator output to the drive motors, or all of it if the batteries are already charged. 80mpg highway for a tank’s worth of fuel and whatever DEF/water mix is used, AND you have a fully charged traction motor battery at the end of it?