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Mercedes presented its new F1 W12 E Performance car on Tuesday. The new car, which will be driven by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, will have the tough task of succeeding the ultra-dominant W11 that was fielded last year.
The black livery introduced prior to the start of the 2020 season is back, but with a few changes, including a stronger link with Mercedes’ high-performance division AMG, whose logos adorn the engine cover.
A natural descendant of the W11, the new creation from Brackley (UK) lacks the dual-axis steering system that helped its predecessor manage tyre temperatures. The system has been banned from the 2021 technical regulations, which include a number of changes that Mercedes has naturally had to adapt to. These are mainly located at the level of the flat bottom, the rear brake scoops and the diffuser.
James Allison is refusing to reveal where Mercedes has invested the two development tokens allocated to each team this winter, but the Star’s technical director says that this choice “will become clear over time”.
On the engine side, Hywel Thomas, who succeeded Andy Cowell as head of the High Performance Powertrains (HPP) department in Brixworth (UK), spoke of a new development stage. This is marked in particular by the desire to move towards greater thermal efficiency in the internal combustion engine (ICE). Changes have also been made to the turbocharger to minimise the impact of heat rejection.
For maximum reliability, the energy recovery systems have been strengthened, while the aluminium structure of the engine block has been replaced with a new, stronger alloy.
Off the track, Mercedes will face the dual challenge of the introduction of the budget cap and a handicap system for aerodynamic development. The 2020 champions will enjoy a 22% lower quota of wind tunnel hours and use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools than the bottom of the class, Williams. With one of the biggest budgets in the field, they will have to reduce it significantly to fall below the $145m (€132m) regulation.
We have had to change the structure of the team and the way we work, we have had to streamline our processes and become more efficient,” said Toto Wolff, team principal, director, and 33% shareholder of Mercedes. The impact is huge, but it has also allowed us to set up our Applied Science engineering department, which is growing exceptionally well and providing F1 expertise to many customers.
With major rule changes expected in 12 months’ time partly motivated by a desire to topple the Mercedes empire, it would not be surprising to see the German team, equally owned by Wolff, parent company Daimler, and petrochemical giant INEOS, stay ahead of the competition.
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