How F1's ingenious ignition revolution brought an instant power boost
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Formula 1 / Canadian GP Special feature

How F1's ingenious ignition revolution brought an instant power boost

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Former Mercedes powertrains boss Andy Cowell used to say “it all starts with the bonfire”. PAT SYMONDS explains how clever ignition technology delivered a massive advantage

In late 2015 stories emerged of an engineer from Mercedes High Performance Powertrains leaving the organisation to join Ferrari and taking knowledge with him that would benefit the Scuderia. At the time much was made of secret spark plug technology that Mercedes had exploited. It was said this had not only been the largest contributor to the phenomenal performance of the Mercedes engine in 2014 and 2015, now it had also been leaked to Ferrari.

Perhaps the first thing to say to put the record straight is that it is highly unlikely this was the case. Of course, when engineers transfer from one competitor to another – be they chassis or engine specialists – an amount of intellectual property is transferred with them, but this knowledge is only that which is in their heads. The consequences of industrial espionage are so severe that no one would risk an accusation these days.

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