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Formula 1 season 2018: That's why Mercedes is not copying Ferrari

New Mercedes F1 W09 (2018) in detail
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D you have to be aran this year get used to. The racing car is no longer being reinvented. The development in the second year of the great aero reform takes place in detail. Significantly, of all the new cars, Sauber has shown the greatest courage to date. Mercedes Technical Director James Allison also knows why: 'If you are further back in the field, you don't have so much to lose.'

Untrained eyes would not attest to the new Mercedes F1 W09 many new ideas. They would probably speak differently if they had the opportunity to look the Silver Arrow under its Kevlar skin. Vehicle boss James Allison and engine guru Andy Cowell passed the compliments on to each other. Allison is proud of the slim waist around the rear axle. “The rear of the car has become significantly more compact. The job for Andy is a lot tougher than mine because his components have a longer lead time. If we are wrong with our calculations, he has a problem. '

Cowell chats about the everyday life of an engine technician:' The aerodynamicists constantly provide you with new surfaces for the fairing under which the engine has to fit. And they are constantly besieging you with questions like: Can it be done smaller? Can we have it easier? Do we need that much cooling? Then you go back to your department and ask yourself: How in heaven are you going to do this? Then you do a few test runs on the test stands in the summer and you find out: yes, it works. And catch yourself thinking about it. It could be even smaller, even lighter, with even less cooling. ”

New engine parts, design based on known concepts

The Mercedes department in Brixworth has a completely new one for this season Engine built. Cowell no longer wanted to confirm this entirely because it would be politically incorrect in the course of the search for a new engine concept for 2021: “The parts are almost all new. But the designs build on existing concepts. ”The first man in the engine department gives an example. “The engine, MGU-H and turbocharger now have to last seven GP weekends, the battery, MGU-K and electronics even longer. This task is not new to us. As early as the V10 era, the engine running times began to be stretched more and more. We have been involved in this process and this problem for years. ”

Mercedes W09: Under the hood sits a completely revised V6 turbo.

The computer does the basic work. “The simulation tells us how much full throttle the engine will run in the new car. This is how often in the course of its lifetime we can run the engine with maximum power, how often the battery is charged and discharged, how often electricity is converted into mechanical power. And you have to solve this task without the parts getting bigger and heavier. ”Whether the Mercedes V6 turbo has finally exceeded the 1,000 hp limit could not be coaxed from Cowell:“ I'd rather not give an answer. ”Behind the Backdrops could be heard that the sound barrier had fallen.

If it hadn't been easy to simply forget the three-motor rule and build a drive unit from the start on the basis that you could have with four or five units comes through the season? In theory, this would have the advantage that you can ride at full power for longer and have more than just one stage of development in your quiver. Cowell dismisses this: “It is better to develop the engine as the regulations require. The goal must be not to forfeit any performance. I think the others think that too. Anyone who voluntarily calculates a defeat because they start from behind throws away the world title. You still have to expect that you might need an extra engine because something unforeseen happens. ”

The Mercedes talked to its technicians

While the Mercedes drive in the last was consistently top of the class for four years, the 2017 chassis had its ups and downs. And that is exactly what drove James Allison's engineers: “We re-analyzed all of the races we had problems in last year. And then asked us how one and the same car with the same engine and the same drivers could suddenly be so transformed a weekend before or after. '

Something surprising happened, as the Mercedes technical director explains:' To At the beginning of the year the car seemed to want to tell us which way to go to solve the problems. But whenever we listened to the car's cries for help, it got even worse. We have thendid the opposite, and suddenly it worked. ”Mercedes therefore checked its simulation tools and calculations and adapted them with what was learned on the track. “As the season progressed, we understood our car better and better. To the same extent, our results also became more consistent. ”

That is why Mercedes stayed true to its design philosophy. The suspension geometry has been changed slightly, the weight of the chassis components has been reduced and the roll center has been shifted. The wheelbase was not touched. “We understood early on that it mainly brings us advantages. That is why it was decided early on to leave it as it was. ”When the car was turned on, it was a little different. “It's a complicated thing because mechanics and aerodynamics are closely linked. We always achieved the maximum downforce at the rear with a relatively low ground clearance. Nevertheless, we have experimented a lot in this area and are now slowly getting closer to the competition, even if we are nowhere near as high as a Red Bull, ”reveals Allison. With a slightly raised car in the rear, Mercedes managed to increase the downforce on the rear axle.

Ferrari copy too risky

They stayed true to the concept of the side pods. The Mercedes is the first car that does not copy the Ferrari idea, apart from Renault, who probably still presented the old car with a halo. Ferrari shortens the side pods with a front end. With all sorts of advantages. A shorter underbody, higher cooling inlets, a stronger indentation of the side parts on the underside, less weight. Still, Allison and his entourage kept their hands off it. “Following Ferrari on this path means a massive intervention in the sensitive aerodynamics concept. We thought about it, but quickly realized that we would have to expect losses for a long time before we felt the benefits. Because we recognized at the same time that there is still a lot of potential in our path, we preferred to stay on familiar territory. ”

Mercedes has probably reserved its last secrets for the test drives in Barcelona. And some details may have simply been overlooked in the dark of the garage in which the team unveiled its new F1 W09. For example, the disguise on the halo. 'There is a. But it's a little different from our competition, ”Allison smiles. He also says: “We were able to fully compensate for the aerodynamic disadvantages of the Halo. The aero is as good as if we were driving without the Halo. ”His announcement for the upcoming season was intended to warn the opposition:“ We assume that our car is now fast on all tracks in all conditions. Also in Monte Carlo and Singapore. “


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