11 June 2020

Hans Mezger 1929 -2020

Hans Mezger has died at the age of 90. He was responible for some of Porsche's most famous engines, including the celebrated TAG-badged turbo engines which dominated F1 in the early 1980s. Later Porsche came back to F1 with a V12, which was a disaster. Generally-speaking, however, Mezger's engines were successful, both in road cars and on the race tracks.

Born near Stuttgart at the end of 1929, Mezger graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Stuttgart in 1956 and joined Porsche, working in the Experimental Department at Zuffenhausen. He was soon involved in the development of the company's F2 engines and then in the design of the 1.5-litre Porsche flat-eight Formula 1 engine, raced by Dan Gurney and Jo Bonnier in 1962. Although that project was short-lived, Ferdinand Porsche decided afterwards to create a motorsport division at Porsche and Mezger was put in charge. The years that followed were focussed on sports car racing with the Porsche 904, 906, 908 and 910 models, winning the International Championship for Makes in 1969 and in 1970 and 1971 in the new Porsche 917. There was further success in the United States with success in CanAm and IMSA.In 1972 the company went public and was reorganized.

Mezger remained in charge of racing engine design at the new base in Weissach and in the years that followed Porsche was a dominant force in sportscar racing with the 935 and with turbo power.

In the autumn of 1981 the company was approached by McLaren's Ron Dennis and asked to build a turbocharged Formula 1 engine, funded by TAG and known as the TAG-Porsche. This was a spectacularly successful engine which enabled McLaren to win the Formula 1 World Championships in 1984-85-86. At the same time, Porsche enjoyed great success with the 956 and 962 models.

In 1987 Porsche announced plans to compete in CART racing but it was not a huge success and the programme ended in 1990. Mezger and his engineers then designed a new V12 Formula 1 engine which, it was announced, would be available to anyone who had the money necessary. Footwork boss Wataru Ohashi agreed to pay but the engne was a complete disaster and it was quickly abandoned.

When it came to road cars, Mezger designed the 911 engine and continued to develop the unit until the 997.

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