This just in from Motorsport:
“Mercedes’ Formula 1 engine has hit a landmark achievement on the dyno…breaking the 50 percent thermal efficiency barrier for the first time.”
Now, if you’re Lewis Hamilton, that’s exciting news.
But for the rest of us, you might be thinking “what?”
Here’s the “what:” in a car, “thermal efficiency” tells how well the engine turns fuel into power/energy. And 50 percent is well above what our cars get. Higher thermal efficiency means better mileage – which means we spend less on gas, because we need to fill up less often.
And while today that new engine sits in a Mercedes lab – we know that what Lewis Hamilton and his rivals drive today, often ends up in our cars – maybe not tomorrow, but soon.
That list already includes steel disc brakes and tires that hold the road better, active suspension, more aerodynamic design and (not surprisingly) better engines (your dual overhead cam valves, if you want to be specific).
And maybe one day, 50 percent thermal efficiency will be on that list as well.