MAHLE means performance, and with over 80 years of rich heritage, MAHLE possess several attributes which gives the racers the competitive advantage they seek. The following characteristics are the “Features and Benefits” of the MAHLE piston which separate us from the competitors.
Ultra flat ring grooves, the key to power
Every MAHLE Motorsport piston is machined to exacting tolerances with focused attention given to the radial flatness of the ring grooves. A flat ring groove is essential in achieving and maintaining the best seal possible. The quality of the ring grooves is so critical to peak and lasting performance, that MAHLE designed and built the machinery used to machine the ring grooves for its MotorSport piston assemblies. Combined with ultra flat MAHLE rings that are included in every PowerPak piston kit, MAHLE delivers the formula for the best sealing power cell on the market.
A true performance coating
MAHLE Motorsports’ proprietary Grafal® anti-friction skirt coating is like no other on the market. It is graphite impregnated to reduce drag like many other skirt coatings, but this is where the similarities end. The screen print application provides superior adhesion and is designed to last 100,000+ miles. The unique properties of Grafal® reduce the harsh contact between the piston skirt and cylinder bore, resulting in much less wear on the bore and significantly reduced piston skirt fatigue.
Pin bores CNC machined for unmatched performance
Piston failures can often be traced back to poor and inconsistent pin bore quality or design. The pin bores on every MAHLE Motorsport piston are finishmachined using CNC equipment specially designed andmanufactured by MAHLE to precisely control shape, size and alignment. This added control allows for advanced designs and flexibility, resulting in unmatched consistency andperformance. MAHLE manages every small detail with the type of precision and expertise you would expect from the world’s piston technology leader.
Formula 1 is the sport discipline where the technological development reaches its pinnacle. Due to the new regulations introduced in 2014, this aspect particularly fundamental. In particular the switch from 2.4-liter V8 naturally aspirated engine to the 1.6-liter V6 turbocharged one poses significant technological challenges. Despite the significantly smaller size of the engines, absolute power output, also due to the additional electric power of 120 kW, and thus specific output levels are substantially higher. With the introduction of turbocharging, peak combustion pressures of over 200 bar must be mastered, while the engines are running at extremely high speeds of up to the 15,000 rpm allowed by regulations. The result is primarily very high mechanical loads that impact components—above all pistons, by far the most critical mechanical components in modern racing engines. MAHLE motorsports has therefore intensified the ongoing development of materials: fundamental measures including improved aluminum alloys—including in powder-metallurgical form, too—and new coatings for the piston crown and ring groove side faces. Using 3D topology optimization, substantial advances were also made in the design of the piston structure. Because primarily mechanical effects are critical, the use of steel pistons in Formula 1 engines is also being investigated.
A second far-reaching change in the regulations for powertrain design related to the former “KERS” (Kinetic Energy Recovery System): the system, called “ERS” (Energy Recovery System) uses the turbocharger to convert thermal energy into electric energy and stores it. This not only increases the permissible electrical storage capacity, but also the maximum additional power output that the driver can tap. Instead of the approximately 60 kW that have been available for 6.7 seconds per lap, since 2014 it is up to 120 kW for 33.3 seconds per lap. The additional electrical power does not, however, relieve the combustion engine and its components. On the contrary, the high external torque that the electric motor applies to the engine via the transmission causes additional stresses. These bending loads must also be considered in the piston design.
The regulations finally also provide that, since 2014, only five engines are permitted per driver per season instead of the previous eight. So one engine has to last for significantly longer distances. Whereas 2,000 km used to be sufficient in the past, the mark is now 4,000 km—an enormous additional burden on all components. The engine regulation is thus nearly applicable to the other big racing series, such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
All Formula 1 engines of both the old and the new generation are equipped with MAHLE motorsport components.