Mercedes tests aggressive new Formula 1 aerodynamics as it builds on high mileage
Mercedes is trialling some aggressive new bodywork as it builds on the high mileage completed by Lewis Hamilton on the first day of Formula 1 winte...
Mercedes is trialling some aggressive new bodywork as it builds on the high mileage completed by Lewis Hamilton on the first day of Formula 1 winter testing.
Hamilton completed 156 laps of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, around 450 miles, yesterday, before handing over to Nico Rosberg for today’s running.
When the German driver emerged from the pits, his car was fitted with new bargeboards that featured a number of serrated edges designed to work the airflow towards the rear end of the W07.
Mercedes’ head of motorsport, Toto Wolff, had hinted after the first day of running, where Hamilton finished second, 0.470s behind pacesetter Sebastian Vettel that the team would be trying out some unusual design concepts.
He said: "We [have] some bits which are slightly unusual. We are not sure whether they come on the car tomorrow or after tomorrow.
"It depends on the analysis of the data from today was, but certainly some things to look at. Certainly when I saw it the first time I was surprised."
Hamilton’s “amazing day”
After completing almost double the amount of laps as the next driver, which was Marcus Ericsson in the 2015 Sauber on 88, Hamilton declared his first day in the W07 as the best first testing run he had ever completed.
He said: "It has been an amazing day. I've never had a day one like today. To get in the new car and to have no problems is just a remarkable job done by the team.
"It was just encouraging so there was no need to find motivation, the motivation was to get the car as far as possible in terms of distance because that puts us in good stead for the season."
Wolff explained that Mercedes had been targeting high mileage on day one to prove its reliability, which would then allow it to turn its attention to testing the new parts Rosberg is running today.
He said: "Our target for [Monday] was to do lots of laps, lots of mileage to collect data and to check various systems and correlation before we head into the next phase, which is looking at performance starting tomorrow and after tomorrow," Wolff said.
"We had the plan of logging so many kilometres and when we discussed it with Lewis and Nico [Rosberg] before testing.
Finding new development gains
After the W07 was launched, Wolff explained that as F1’s technical regulations have stayed relatively stable between 2015 and 2016, finding more gains from existing development concepts was the biggest hurdle Mercedes would face ahead of the new season, but he was confident its success would continue.
He said: “The biggest challenge for the team over the winter has been finding how we can extract more performance from what was already a very strong power unit and chassis concept.
“The regulations have remained mostly stable for another year, so the development curve has naturally started to level out slightly. But as a group of competitive racers, this is the sort of challenge we love - to find every last bit of performance.
“We are confident in our people - but we always take a 'glass half empty' approach. We remain humble, feet on the ground, pushing hard to develop everything from the cars to our wider capability as an organisation in the long term."
2017 rules debate rumbles on
Although the rules remain similar heading into 2016, the debate around F1’s regulations for 2017 continues, and Wolff explained while Mercedes was open to changing the sport’s aerodynamic approach, the manufacturer was keen to protect the investment it had made in the V6 turbo power unit technology.
He said: "We are open to changes in the regulations. On the power unit side we are perhaps a little more conservative because, when the teams and the FIA decided to introduce the V6 hybrid package a few years ago, it was clear that a considerable development budget would need to be deployed.
“All four manufacturers did so relying on those rules - and now we need stability to protect that investment. On the chassis side and aerodynamic side, we embrace new challenges as long as they make sense.
“It's important that the cars are quicker - that was demanded of the strategy group. But also that we still have overtaking and that driving becomes more of a challenge again. But putting these things into regulations is not easy.”
Hamilton will return to the track on the third day of the test this week, with Rosberg completing the running on Thursday.
Regulation changes in 2016 designs
Mercedes’ executive director (technical), Paddy Lowe, explained that two of the changes implemented in the design of the W07, and all F1 cars this season, were due to the rule changes governing the engine exhaust pipe and wastegate placement, and the mandatory higher and stronger cockpit sides for 2016.
He said: “On the mechanical side, the main rule change is around the separate ducting of exhaust tail pipe and waste gate. But, in reality, that's not had a major effect.
“The biggest structural change is on the chassis side, where we've raised the protection area around the driver by 20mm and increased the side impact test load from 15 to 50kN.
“This is a substantial increase in the load that has to be taken by the chassis as that point and will give much greater protection to the driver.”What do you make of the W07? Will it continue Mercedes domination in F1? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
Vettel keeps Ferrari on top in ultra-soft tyre dogfight
Analysis: What really prompted Honda's F1 shake-up