© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

“You’ve got to force the air through it”

Today, the well-designed fans on the side-pod and roll-hoop look quite familiar. But only three years ago these cooling solu­tions that bring about 518 percent improve­ment in airflow, were unthink­able. Mark Wilson, Sales Director at ebm-papst Auto­mo­tive & Drives (UK), remem­bers how the devel­op­ment came about.

How did Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport cool the oil and water in the car before today’s solu­tion was in place?

They were using an AC forward curved fan. In 2013 and before, almost all of the F1 teams would have only used this stan­dard solu­tion. The reason for that is there’s quite high back pres­sure and flow required for cooling the oil and the water in a short time. It was very normal to have the fan placed next to the car with just a piece of flex­ible ducting directed into the side-pod. This was before our part­ner­ship with the team.

What changed in 2014?

We imme­di­ately started talking about a new solu­tion during our first year of the part­ner­ship. Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport had an outline design brief. They wanted the new cooling solu­tion to be mobile, high perfor­mance and they wanted it to run on 24vdc battery and AC power. So we had to come up with a DC solu­tion and utilise a trans­former for AC charging during garage oper­a­tion. We did some home­work and looked which new prod­ucts were avail­able. The “S-Force” unit was perfect for it – a real game changer!

Why didn’t you offer this other solu­tion earlier?

Mark Wilson, Sales Director at ebm-papst Auto­mo­tive & Drives (UK) Photo | ebm-papst

There was simply nothing that was avail­able prior to that. The thought of using a small axial fan was unachiev­able for the perfor­mance required. It would never have worked. Then there was the 4114 S-Force devel­op­ment that came out of ebm-papst St. Georgen. It had orig­i­nally been designed for a demanding telecom appli­ca­tion. Suddenly we had a unit that was capable of 11,000rpm, up to 570 m3/h and operate at a very high duty point. Also, it was much lighter: We went from having a die-cast aluminum housed forward curved impeller–which was only ever useable in the garage because it needed to be on mains power– to having a light­weight poly­car­bonate fan that could be completely utilized anywhere. It could be used in parc fermé, on the grid and inside the garage. Instead of needing to have mobile power and gener­a­tors, they had this hand-held unit which could run on its own power source. On top of that, the avail­able perfor­mance was massively increased. It was an absolute win-win: lighter, mobile and it did every­thing better. And Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport were the first to adopt it.

What’s special about the design?

The unique­ness of this is that you’re pres­sur­izing onto the engine’s heat exchanger. It is incred­ibly impor­tant to seal all the way from the inlet to the heat exchanger. When the air hits the heat exchanger, if there is any way for it to leak between the fan and the radi­ator it will escape and lose pres­sure which reduces the cooling perfor­mance. We advised to not just blow on it; you’ve got to force the air through the side-pod with no options to escape anywhere else.

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