Will the Silver Arrow continue to hit the (Red) bull’s eye despite this year’s technical regulation overhaul? F1i's Nicolas Carpentiers takes a closer look at the Mercedes W08 and explains why he thinks the reigning world champions have once again set the bar quite high.
A WINGED BEAST
Such is Formula 1’s development pace that you can ill-afford to rest on your laurels, even when you racked up 51 wins and three championship doubles across the past three years. That’s why Mercedes has gone for an original and innovative design on its latest charger – the W08 EQ Power+.
Several wings have been added on the flanks of the Mercedes chassis, whose gestation period began back in March 2016. Starting halfway through the front end, these profiled aero elements extend backwards to the level of the rearview mirrors.
While the exact purpose of the wings is know only to the German manufacturer’s aerodynamicists, one may surmise that their curved oulines help guide the airflow to the lower sidepods in order to optimise air circulation towards the rear of the car.
With the 2017 rules revamps mandating a reduced exclusion zone, teams have been able to add bodywork parts in areas that used to be off-limit.
Until then, this had resulted in longer, larger, and higher bargeboards but no one before Mercedes had used the area to install winglets, which remind of a similar design seen on the Ferrari F2008.
Further evidence of Mercedes’ aero creativity can be found in the ‘T’ wing at the rear end of the engine cover (above the exhaust tailpipe).
The design, devised under head of aero Mike Elliott’s stewardship, certainly created a stir but it could only be an alternate solution to cope with the sort of strong lateral wind witnessed at Silverstone on launch day.
Mercedes’ engineering director Aldo Costa has revealed that the team will be evaluating several specification of bodywork during the pre-season tests, including the shark fin spotted on most other cars.