Four of the Greenpower Project's members were excited to pay a visit with Mr Villafrati to the Mercedes High Performance Powertrains Centre in Brixworth.
Team Old-Gold Visit To Mercedes
Greenpower is a UK-based charity that helps young students in pursuing their interests in STEM subjects by challenging them to design, build, and race an electric car. The Greenpower Project is one of WGS’s extra-curricular clubs. Four of its members: Tom, Vishwas, Ahmed and Jak, who made their debut at Mallory Park earlier this year, were excited to pay a visit with Mr Villafrati to the Mercedes High Performance Powertrains Centre in Brixworth. We asked Tom to report back on his day:
“The first thing that struck us as we arrived at the Mercedes High Performance Powertrains centre was the shiny sign at the entrance. We were warmly welcomed by our guide, Chris who took us through everything from company structure to annual goals, recent projects (which we later saw the fruits of), the reason for Mercedes’ interest in F1, and how they ensured success in the sport from the bottom up.
Chris particularly emphasised the order of hierarchy (or lack of) at the centre. There were very few, if any, offices – everyone was collaborating on the same level. Designers, project managers, engineers, and even the finance team, were grouped as closely together as the space would allow – speed and efficiency were the main goals in everything they did. How Mercedes profit from Formula One is not directly quantifiable said Chris, but he did point out the growth in profit margins for every year Mercedes had won the F1 World Championship (of course, they weren’t short of data to work with). Something Chris was particularly close to was the AMG Project One – an audacious attempt to fit a fully-fledged V6 F1 engine into a totally road-legal production car – it may have taken 6 years, but as was pointed out to us, a new lap record at the Nürburgring was probably worth the wait. He told us that the main challenge with the car was fitting the engine to noise and emission regulations – something the team at the powertrains development centre were solely responsible for. Seeing the £2.4 million hypercar in person was, naturally, a highlight of the day, but the car only managed third place in the car value leaderboard. Stoffel Vandoorne’s Season 8-winning Formula E car, delicately placed in the stairwell of the Hybrid Technology centre, took home second place, whilst the clear champion was Valtteri Bottas’ 2018 F1 car, suspended from the ceiling in the main lobby.
Lunch was followed by an extensive tour of the on-site facilities. We began in a large factory for the most valuable parts (intellectual property-wise) of the engines, which boasted more than a 97% rate of compliance – each part is individually inspected before it is sent off to the assembly centres. Moving on to the testing of new components, and then to the fabrication of the electrical engine components, before seeing the final assembly process of the engines, we saw all there was to see of engine development and assembly on our tour. Finally, we reached the Dynos – used to test engine quality, weaknesses, and readiness for competition, before a final treat at the end of the day – a peak into the control room, gathering an astonishing volume of live engine data from the Abu Dhabi race weekend, following Free Practice 2.
And so our tour had come to an end: what an endlessly inspirational, totally absorbing day out!”