Mercedes aims for podium finishes with new MPG W02
The Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team has set their hopes on the brand new Mercedes MPG W02 for this season. Mercedes presented its new Silver Arrow to the media in Valencia, where all Formula One teams have arrived for the first pre-season testing days. After the disappointing results of the previous season, Mercedes hopes the MPG W02 will be far more competitive, and the team is aiming for podium finishes the year round. The car was presented in front of the team's garage at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, it certainly seems the big fancy launch parties are now a thing of the past, as most teams chose to launch their car during the first pre-season testing days.
The all-German team represents the legacy of the iconic Silver Arrows team of the 1930s, and since last year the pressure has been mounting, mother company Mercedes-Benz wants to see good results this season. The name Silver Arrow was the nickname of the 1934 Mercedes W25, a car that was originally painted white, but before the first race the car was one kilo too heavy, the technicians scraped the white paint off, exposing the aluminium bodywork, and thus the name Silver Arrow was born. The MPG WO2's livery looks like last year's livery, but it looks much more silver now.
The MPG W02
The new Mercedes design also features the high-pitched nose and a slender rear section as seen on other 2011 cars. It also has the characteristic bumps on the front side of the cockpit, Red Bull Racing as the first to use them in 2009. The front wing runs along the complete width of the car, with two flaps on either side of the wing. The new features of the car include new side pods with aerodynamically shaped air intakes, and a new airbox.
Briton Ross Brawn, is not only the team principal, but is also the designer of the MPG W02, is happy with the end result. Brawn, "It is always a thrill to see a new car ready to take the track for the first time and this year is no exception." Asked about the design and expectations of the car he replied: "We are now seeing the benefits of our chassis group and our engine group working well together. With a good technical structure and a strengthened race engineering organisation, both at the factory and the race track, I am confident that we have done and will continue to do a better job this year in all key areas." And Brawn added, "The concept development for the MGP W02 started early and we have set challenging targets for the design, combined with a robust plan to ensure that the pace of development can continue throughout the long 2011 season."
Mercedes-Benz Sport Vice-President Norbert Haug about the MPG W02, "The new Silver Arrow for the 2011 season has little in common with its immediate predecessor. Our chassis engineers have taken a fairly ruthless approach and were determined to shave off every superfluous gram and millimetre." About the new Silver Arrow's livery he said: "We have given it a brand new coat of paint, and we aim to see a smile on the faces of our hard-working drivers and team members that is as bright as our new silver livery."
Like others, Haug thinks the new Pirellis and the new regulations will play an important role this season. "Our team, like all the other teams, has to deal with complex new tasks. The new generation of tyres from Pirelli, and the extent to which the cars and drivers adapt to them, will play a vital role in deciding wins and defeats," Haug said. The German also believes the adjustable rear wing will improve the action Formula One, "The rear wing flap, which can be adjusted under specified conditions, will boost top speed and facilitate overtaking which should open up a new and interesting chapter for Formula One."
Mercedes KERS system
Mercedes will be using the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovering System) system this year, and has build a very light and compact hybrid system, which will give the driver an extra 82 bhp boost for 6.7 seconds. According to Brawn the new lighter system will not have an impact on the car's balance and he described the new design as a 'major step forwards'. The Mercedes KERS system was the first to win a race when it was introduced on the McLaren car in 2009.
Haug about the new system and its benefits, "This [KERS] will play a massive role amongst all of the performance-related components, both for the additional power and for the strategic options it makes available. As in 2009, it is our ambition that Mercedes-Benz builds and runs the best hybrid system and that all three teams which use it benefit significantly from this."
Drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg
Seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher has last year embarked on a three-year journey, and his ultimate goal is to win an eighth championship. But the 42-year old German, the oldest driver of the field, encountered many problems last year, and his performance has been far under par. Nevertheless, Schumacher is happy to go back to work after the long winter break. "Finally the waiting is over and things get started. For us drivers, the break every year is hard to take because the gap between the last race and the first time out on track seems to be never-ending," said Schumacher.
Asked whether the launch of a new car is still special he replied: "Even if I have been involved and updated all winter on the developments, and even if I know the improvements are significant, it is still different to see the new car literally for the first time in front of you. You automatically build up this nice pre-start tension." Schumacher can't wait to get his hands on the new car, "I very much look forward to the new season. We have said it several times already but again, we are really to building up something big together. I am very confident that this season we will be standing on the podium much more regularly; ideally in the middle!"
Nico Rosberg, the 24-year old son of 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg, has had far less problems last year, and as a result scored almost twice as many points as his team colleague and also scored the team's first three podium finishes. Rosberg after the launch, "It is always a very exciting time of year to drive the new car for the first time and feel how it performs out on track." And what about the new Pirellis? "This year we have the added challenge of not having an immediate reference due to the change in tyre manufacturer to the new Pirelli tyres, which felt good during our first try-out at the Abu Dhabi test last year," the young German said.
A stronger season is a 'must be' for Mercedes
Last year the German Mercedes team delivered some disappointing results, and upgrading their performance has now become a priority. Team principal Brawn expects the car will deliver good results. "We want to be setting the standard right from the start but if we are not, we will respond very strongly to get ourselves into the game. Everyone is excitedly waiting to see what the new season will reveal." And added, "We have two excellent drivers in Michael and Nico, both of whom capable of winning races in a good car, and we look forward to seeing them push each other and the development of the new Silver Arrow during the season."
Haug agrees, "Rosberg and Schumacher are top drivers who can win races for us, provided we build them the right car. The new Silver Arrow should not only look first class, but should also be developed to be at the top step- by-step."
Rosberg is looking forward to the new season which will officially kick off in Bahrain next month. "I am very much looking forward to having a much stronger season than last year and as always, our targets are aggressive. We want to be competing at the front and challenging for race wins." Rosberg and Schumacher will share the testing duties today, on Wednesday Rosberg has the car for himself, and on Thursday Schumacher will be at the wheel of the MGP W02 Silver Arrow.