Obituary: Porsche engine designer Hans Mezger, 1929-2020

Hans Mezger, the architect of a line of successful racing engines at Porsche including the TAG-badged Formula 1 turbo V6, has died at the age of 90.

Obituary: Porsche engine designer Hans Mezger, 1929-2020

Mezger oversaw development of the flat-12 that powered the Porsche 917 to a pair of Le Mans 24 Hours victories in 1970 and '71 and the flat-sixes for the 935, 936 and 956/962 designs that between them won the French enduro no fewer than 11 times.

He also headed up Porsche's ill-fated and short-lived return to F1 in 1991 with the 3.5-litre V12 engine used by the Footwork team at the end of a career with the German manufacturer that stretched back to 1956. He also designed the flat-six boxer engine for the 911 in 1963.

Michael Steiner, who as head of research and development is in charge of motorsport at Porsche, said: "The news of his death represents a very sad loss for us.

"We thank Hans Mezger for his extraordinary engineering achievements, which he undertook for motorsport in general and for Porsche in particular. His innovations for our series sports cars will remain unforgotten forever."

Mezger joined Porsche in 1956 straight from university, working initially on diesel engines before moving into its calculations department.

"I wanted to join Porsche because the type 356 sports car inspired me," said Mezger. "So I applied, got an interview, and the company offered me a job in diesel engine development — until then I didn't even know that Porsche had such a thing.

"But I envisioned working on sports cars and they showed understanding and that's how I started in the calculations department."

Niki Lauda, McLaren with Porsche engine designer Hans Mezger

Niki Lauda, McLaren with Porsche engine designer Hans Mezger

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

He joined the marque's F1 programme in 1960, before designing what has been dubbed the 'Mezger engine' for Porsche's new 911 sportscar, which was originally called the 901.

Mezger was subsequently promoted to department head of the new racing division set up by R&D boss Ferdinand Piech in 1965 where he oversaw the 917 project.

He led the design of the normally-aspirated flat-12s that powered the Le Mans-winning 917 coupes and the turbocharged version in the back of the open-top 917/30 that swept to the Can-Am title in North America in 1973.

Mezger and his team then brought turbocharged technology to Porsche road car range with the 911 Turbo introduced in 1974.

His 2.1-litre flat-six won Le Mans in 1976 and '77 in the back of the 936 Group 6 car and in '79, in three-litre form, in the 935 Group 5 silhouette GT car.

The 2.65-litre IndyCar engine that followed never raced in its intended arena, but was resurrected for the Group C fuel formula that came into force in 1982.

It was the basis of the engine that won Le Mans in the back of the 936 in 1981 and then the 956 in 1982-85, the 962C in 1986 and '87 and then the Dauer 962LM Porsche in 1994.

He was the creative brains behind development of the TAG Turbo V6 commissioned by McLaren.

This engine powered the McLaren MP4/2 that Niki Lauda took to the F1 world title in 1984, before Alain Prost followed up on that success with back-to-back championships in 1985-86.

The 'TAG Turbo - made by Porsche' power plant won a total of 25 grands prix in 1984-87.

Alain Prost, Ron Dennis, Niki Lauda, McLaren and Hans Mezger behind

Alain Prost, Ron Dennis, Niki Lauda, McLaren and Hans Mezger behind

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

shares
comments
Grid build-ups could be abandoned as new safety option

Previous article

Grid build-ups could be abandoned as new safety option

Next article

Bahrain could run second race on “almost oval” track, says Brawn

Bahrain could run second race on “almost oval” track, says Brawn
Load comments
The unexpected benefit of F1's sprint race repeat Prime

The unexpected benefit of F1's sprint race repeat

OPINION: Formula 1's sprint race trial at Silverstone drew mixed feedback on Saturday, but there remained the true test of how it would impact Sunday's Grand Prix. While fans were busy marvelling at Fernando Alonso's progress, a key lesson was being learned that would directly contribute to the dramatic lap-one clash at Copse the following day

Formula 1
Jul 22, 2021
The off-track considerations that led to Hamilton/Verstappen F1 shunt Prime

The off-track considerations that led to Hamilton/Verstappen F1 shunt

OPINION: Formula 1’s 2021 title fight turned ugly last weekend when Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collided at the start of the British Grand Prix. Verstappen thankfully walked away unharmed, but this had been a clash long-since coming.

Formula 1
Jul 21, 2021
British Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

British Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2021 British Grand Prix will live long in the memory for the dramatic clash between Formula 1's two title protagonists, which opened the door for other drivers to capitalise. One did so in spectacular fashion, while others fluffed their lines

Formula 1
Jul 19, 2021
How Leclerc almost defied Hamilton after Silverstone clash Prime

How Leclerc almost defied Hamilton after Silverstone clash

A poor start for Valtteri Bottas and the lap one clash between Formula 1's 2021 title protagonists gave Charles Leclerc a surprise lead in the British Grand Prix that he almost held to the end. Here's how the Ferrari driver came close to a famous victory, ultimately denied by a recovering Lewis Hamilton three laps from home

Formula 1
Jul 19, 2021
The signs that suggest Mercedes can win at Silverstone Prime

The signs that suggest Mercedes can win at Silverstone

Red Bull and Max Verstappen scored an early blow against Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes at Silverstone, with sprint qualifying race victory. But that doesn’t mean Sunday’s grand prix is a foregone conclusion. Although Verstappen starts as the favourite, here’s why Mercedes still holds hope of winning

Formula 1
Jul 18, 2021
Uncovering Silverstone's engineering secrets for F1 success Prime

Uncovering Silverstone's engineering secrets for F1 success

Formula 1 returns to Silverstone this weekend, but despite its familiarity to all the teams it is no picnic. Here are five of the key points for engineers to consider prior to the British Grand Prix.

Formula 1
Jul 16, 2021
The 'special relationship' Ferrari will hope to exploit at Silverstone Prime

The 'special relationship' Ferrari will hope to exploit at Silverstone

Ferrari might have snubbed the very first world championship race on British soil but the Scuderia and the UK went on to enjoy some deep connections. As BEN EDWARDS explains, theirs is a shared history that is waiting for its next chapter to be written...

Formula 1
Jul 15, 2021
The political manoeuvring behind F1's return to British GP normality Prime

The political manoeuvring behind F1's return to British GP normality

OPINION: Formula 1 heads back to Silverstone this weekend for the 2021 British Grand Prix, where a full-capacity crowd will return after a painful absence in the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Here’s how the pieces that permitted a part of returning ‘normal’ life were arranged.

Formula 1
Jul 14, 2021