And here comes the big one…
Mercedes unveiled their 2017 challenger the W08 at the Silverstone circuit in UK soon February 23, 2017. The new car is not just significantly different in terms of design but is a huge leap forward from the boxed ugly designs used in the previous years. Apart from the design of the W08 the team also had several comments to make over their ambition for this year, and sent out a message of superiority to its rivals.
Decoding the W08 is a lot of work as the car has evolved from the stepped box shaped nose to a sleeker and meaner platypus styled nose design, resonating design accents used by teams like McLaren in the previous years (Check out MP4-30 nose). Featuring a pelican under-belly below the nose, the car differs in its front aero from the other cars launched so far. The front wing is a only a wider version of the W07’s wing, to adjust to the new Pirelli tyres. When it comes to their suspension, an off-season row erupted concerning their hydraulically-linked suspension, which is a questioned area of development this year. A significant feature packed between the bargeboards on the chassis is a small fin to improve airflow. Unlike most teams, that feature narrow side pods on the car, Mercedes have chosen to widen theirs. The team plans to experiment more central fins at the test in Barcelona, and for now it has an arrangement provision made for it. In terms of livery and other minor details, Mercedes have test finer and more minute elements on their predecessor the W08 and the same have been carried forward to the W09. However one can expect changes in terms of aerodynamic upgrades by Melbourne. When it comes to the images of the W09, the team have only post photos of the shakedown laps at Silverstone, there are no closeup or studio shots this time.
Do they need to be feared this year?
The team have been boasting of their ambition of hitting the 1000bhp mark in terms of power, but that is not their only aim. This year their engine and powertrain, and the power deficit between them and their rival engine providers will play key in determining the pecking order. The Brixworth made engine is supposed to have found an extra 0.3 seconds more pace over the winter, an unprecedented gain for the team. However with a new engine, they won’t be able to disguise their pace at the pre-season tests. With Honda, Renault, and Ferrari upping the anti for this year, its difficult to predict how aggressively the Silver Arrows will be able to defend their title . As far as their sudden change in the driver line-up goes, Valterri Bottas seemed confident that he could beat Lewis Hamilton this year. However, the end-minute shakeup in their line-up due tot he reigning champion Nico Rosberg’s retirement will lead to a reset in team dynamics. Will Lewis runaway with a fourth title? As of now, it is difficult to say, a lot will depend on how far the other drivers are.
Here’s a gallery of the launch: