Mercedes have launched their 2018 car, the W09, that they hope will help them stay top of the world titles for a fifth consecutive season.
The W09 was introduced to the worlds media at Silverstone where it had taken part in a shakedown before the launch. The car itself looks slightly different to some of the other 2018 cars so far, thanks in part to the fact it has an incredibly tight rear, maximizing on the “size zero” concept that was popular a few years ago.
In addition to the rear end, the W09 has not gone as aggressive as the likes of Red Bull on the angling of the rear wing. Suggesting they have perhaps not committed fully to the high rake aero setting favoured by the other teams. Indeed technical director James Allison has confirmed the team is running the same long wheelbase as last year, something they felt brought them an advantage over the season, and therefore will be a strength this season.
There is some indication though that Mercedes have considered some aspects of high rake aero, as the car is running slightly higher rake than last year. It’s thought this has been done to cure some of the deficiencies the team had last year that caused the W08 to be branded “a diva” by team principal Toto Wolff.
“There will still be a bit of a diva in the new car because no one has ever produced a car that doesn’t have foibles.” Allison said in his discussion at the launch. “We hope that we have made some inroads into that…we have tried to create a car that is a little more regular this year.”
The launch today marked the first time Mercedes lead driver, and 2017 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton saw the car put together in one piece. After seeing the car he hopes will land him the 2018 Drivers championship, Hamilton called the car “a work of art”.
“This is the most exciting part of the year to this point – to see the whole car come together,” Hamilton said. “I’ve seen the development of the car for the last eight months and so to see all the pieces come together, it’s a work of art. I am always in awe of the team. There are so many people, so many moving parts, and to see them come together and bring their genius all piled into this beautifully sculptured car, it’s amazing. And there are only two of us that get to drive it. It’s such a unique privilege to have. I was staring at it in the garage and was like ‘how did they do that?'”
The Brackley based team have been in a league of their own since F1’s newest V6 engines were introduced in 2014, having won four Drivers and four Constructors Championships in the bounce. Such is there domination, they have won 80% of the races since 2014. Despite this Mercedes faced the first sustained challenge to their F1 supremacy in 2017 after a big step forward by Ferrari. The Italian team seemed to have the measure of Mercedes at the start of the year, and Hamilton enjoyed a good half a season battle with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. When things fell apart for the Scuderia, Red Bull had a resurgence to threaten Mercedes. And enjoyed a race-winning end to the season at the expense of the silver arrows.
Despite being favourites once again this season, Wolff is remaining cautious about the 2018 season, feeling that they could be in at least a three-team battle for wins.
“We mustn’t discount anybody,” said Wolff. “Today, as it stands, it looks like Ferrari and Red Bull. I am curious to see where McLaren and Renault come out. I wouldn’t write anybody off. The rules will stay the same so it could be a very competitive season.”
Mercedes are sticking with the same driver line up as last year, with Hamilton aiming for a fifth World Championship of his career. Meanwhile team mate Valtteri Bottas will be looking to improve his constancy after a successful first season with the team that saw him win three races for them.
“I want to use all the things that I learned last year and be on a good level on every single race weekend – that’s going to be the goal for me this year.” Bottas explained at the launch.
Mercedes biggest rivals Ferrari will launch their car on Thursday as well.
2018 car unveilings and launch dates
Haas: February 14, VF-18
Williams: February 15, FW41
Red Bull: February 19, RB14
Sauber: February 20, C37
Renault: February 20, RS18
Mercedes: February 22, W09
Ferrari: February 22, SF-71H
McLaren: February 23, Online 7AM GMT
Toro Rosso: February 26, Barcelona
Force India: February 26, Barcelona