Formula 1 constantly pushes the boundaries of performance and efficiency through cutting-edge technology. Thanks to the MGU or Motor Generator Unit, this system has brought more machine power and improved overall vehicle efficiency. In this article, we cover the working principles of the MGU system and discuss the exciting future developments that hold great potential for the sport.
Made for Performance and Efficiency
The MGU system works mutually with the internal combustion engine, harnessing wasted energy and converting it into usable power. It consists of two strands: the MGU-K and the MGU-H. The MGU-K is responsible for harnessing the kinetic energy generated during braking, while the MGU-H focuses on capturing and utilising the heat energy produced by the exhaust gases. MGU serves as the energy recovery system in a hybrid engine. The ERS, alongside the combustion engine, forms the power unit. In a hybrid array, combustion and electricity coact to generate the power applied on the race track.
Variations Between MGU-K and MGU-H
The MGU-K, as mentioned earlier, is responsible for harnessing the kinetic energy generated during braking. When the driver applies the brakes, the MGU-K acts as a generator, converting the rotational energy of the wheels into electrical energy. Eventually, the energy gets saved in a battery for later use. The MGU-K can then act as a motor, deploying the stored energy during acceleration, providing an additional power boost to the car. The vehicle shall recover and utilise energy otherwise wasted during braking, making it more efficient and faster on the track.
Now the MGU-H focuses on capturing and utilising the produced heat energy from exhaust gases. Serving a dual purpose, it is an advanced part of a turbocharger, consisting of a turbine and a compressor connected by a shaft. The turbine is linked to the car’s exhaust, while the compressor links to the intake. When the exhaust gases pass through the turbine, it spins and powers the compressor, compressing air and sending it into the engine. This system fosters the efficiency of getting air into the motor, resulting in faster fuel combustion and raised power.
Although, what sets it apart is that it contains magnets that spin when filled with exhaust gas. These magnets generate electrical energy stored in a battery for future use. Furthermore, the MGU-H can also function as a motor in certain situations. In this case, turbo lag tends to be a common issue. Typically, there is a delay in the turbine’s response when you press the accelerator. To tackle this, the MGU-H acts like a motor and provides power during these moments, eliminating turbo lag effectively.
When looking at the components, the battery pops off immediately. This battery is responsible for stowing the electrical energy generated by the MGU-K and MGU-H. It acts as a reservoir, providing a steady power supply when required. Next, the inverter converts the direct current (DC) stored in the battery into alternating current (AC) that can power the motor. The purpose is to transfer energy between the battery and the MGU-K or MGU-H.
The control electronics form the brain of the system, managing the energy flow between the battery, MGU-K and MGU-H. These electronics monitor various parameters, such as the state of battery charge and the energy requirements of the car, optimising the performance and efficiency of the MGU system. Then, the electric motors are the heart of everything. The MGU-K and MGU-H both consist of electric motors that can function as generators and engines. These must be lightweight, compact, and highly efficient, allowing maximum power output while minimising energy losses.
Coming Developments and Innovations
The world of Formula 1 is constantly evolving, and MGU technology is no exception. Understandably, the costs associated with these can be high. In line with the ongoing endeavour to decrease competition expenses, the MGU-H will not be featured in the updated power unit regulations for 2026. Developing the MGU-H is particularly expensive. In the meantime, the MGU-K will stay as it is, as the current ones already impose limits on the power amount the system can recoup.
Engineers are focusing on the development of more advanced and efficient batteries. The aim is to create batteries that can store and deliver energy at a higher rate, allowing for increased power output and longer-lasting performance. Besides, efforts are underway to reduce the weight of the batteries without compromising their performance, as lighter batteries lead to improved handling and overall vehicle dynamics.
Another area of research is the optimisation of the control electronics. With advanced algorithms and predictive modelling, engineers push to improve the efficiency of the MGU system, ensuring optimal energy flow and utilisation. As a result, this can proceed to significant gains in performance and efficiency, ultimately translating into faster lap times and reduced fuel consumption.
Furthermore, advancements in electric motor technology are also in mind as one to be achieved. Researchers are working on developing lighter, more compact, and even more efficient motors. These motors will not only enhance the performance of the MGU system but also contribute to the overall weight reduction of the F1 car, improving its agility and manoeuvrability on the track.
The MGU system has undoubtedly delivered a sharper competitive note in Formula 1 racing. Through the effective capture and usage of previously unused energy, there has been a notable enhancement in vehicle performance and efficiency. The MGU-K and MGU-H work together to provide an additional edge during acceleration while reducing fuel consumption. With continuous innovations MGU-wise, the future looks promising for further system refinements. As the sport strives for greater sustainability and efficiency, this will continue to play a pivotal part in shaping the future of racing.