Image credits: © Mercedes-Benz.
2012 Mercedes-Benz W03
MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS presents F1 W03 in Barcelona
Mercedes-Benz this morning marked two world premieres at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, with the unveiling of the 2012 Silver Arrow, the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 W03, and the first public sneak preview of the brand-new Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG. The new high-performance roadster, which develops 537 PS while delivering weight savings of 125 kg and 30% improved fuel economy, was introduced by Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
The new Silver Arrow, the F1 W03, has undergone an intensive programme of simulation testing at the team's technical bases in Brackley and Brixworth. This was followed by a filming day limited to 100 kms at Silverstone on 16 February, and a private test day in Barcelona on 19 February, during which the car ran for 354 km. Michael and Nico shared driving duties on both days.
The new car concept is based on a largely stable set of technical regulations, which nevertheless include two significant changes: revision of the maximum bodywork height at the front of the car, which encouraged the distinctive stepped-nose design; and new restrictions concerning the positioning of the exhausts, designed to prevent the aerodynamic benefit gained from exhaust gases during 2011, the so-called ‘blown diffuser'.
The F1 W03 project was begun in May 2011 and is the first full car produced by a technical team that was strengthened last year with recruitments at every level of the organisation. The new car, which is composed of some 4500 parts compared to 4300 parts in 2011, has nevertheless achieved a lower core weight than its predecessor, is better packaged and more efficient. All mandatory FIA crash tests had been successfully completed at the first attempt by the end of the first week of January 2012.
'The F1 W03 is a car that I believe, and hope, our team can be proud of, and which will deliver the on-track results that everybody has worked so hard to achieve,' commented Team Principal Ross Brawn. 'Notwithstanding the distinctive nose design, which is certainly an acquired taste, the F1 W03 is an elegant interpretation of the current regulations, and a clear step forward over its predecessor in terms of detail design and sophistication. Last year, we produced a very bold car and, although its more radical elements didn't always deliver the results we had hoped for, the experience we gained has been invaluable to the design of the 2012 car. The F1 W03 is also a more integrated package, which reflects the ever-strengthening ties between our technical teams in Brackley and Brixworth, and demonstrates that our Silver Arrows works team is taking the next step forward in terms of on-track performance.'
Nico, who drove the first laps in the F1 W03 on 16 February in Silverstone, commented: 'We have had a good start to our 2012 testing programme, and it was a great feeling to drive the first laps in the new F1 W03. The car looks good, and is very nicely packaged under the bodywork – all the parts are in harmony, which reflects how well the different departments of our team are working together. From the beginning of our running, we have been able to focus on understanding the car and making good progress with our test programme. It will be very interesting to learn more about where we stand in the next few weeks.'
Michael, who will complete the first full day of official testing with the new car today in Barcelona, commented: 'I have done quite a few roll-outs and launches of new cars, but even after all these years, I must say it still feels special. Days like this are precious moments, as they are always filled with hope and anticipation. Already last week, when we were driving the F1 W03 for the very first time, it instantly gave us good feedback and sensations. Starting today, we will work intensively to make it a competitive runner. Obviously, we will only see over the next couple of weeks how big the step is that we have made, but I can say already that the guys and girls back in the factories at Brackley and Brixworth were brilliant in putting in so much effort, and we can only say a big thank you them. I know which reward they would like, and we will definitely try to deliver it. For my part, I am eager to fight again, looking forward to the new season, and I can't wait for it to begin.'
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, concluded: '2012 will mark the third season for our Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows works team, which was introduced in January 2010, and our target is to take a step forward in on-track performance. A lot of work has been done throughout the last year, not just to design the new car but also to build a technical organisation that is capable of delivering to its full potential, with consistency. Our ultimate goal is to become regular race winners and championship contenders, and so to write another chapter of success in the story of the Silver Arrows which began 78 years ago. Our target this year is to take another step forward on that road.'
Following the car's launch this morning, the F1 W03 will complete eight full days of pre-season testing over the next two weeks at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.Source - Mercedes-Benz
Barcelona Test, Day One
The MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 W03 made its official debut today at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. After an early morning unveiling in the pit lane by Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, Michael then took the wheel for the day's running.
• A smooth morning session enabled the team to begin set-up comparisons with the new chassis
• A hydraulic problem identified during the afternoon session brought an early end to the planned programme
• Michael completed 51 laps today, taking the F1 W03's total mileage to 782 km to date
Nico will take over the programme tomorrow, with Michael back in the car on Thursday, and Nico concluding the test on Friday.
'My initial feelings with our new car are certainly good. I'm happy with the different evaluations that we have done over the last week, but obviously with the rule changes, we won't know more until later. It's certainly an improvement and we have worked hard on the areas we had defined last year. The aerodynamics figures look good so I'm not worried about the shape of the nose! Even though we had the hydraulic problem today, I'm pleased with all the mileage we have achieved so far with the new car.'Source - Mercedes-Benz
2012 Australian Grand Prix - RaceA strong weekend in Melbourne came to a disappointing end for the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS team today with Nico Rosberg finishing the Australian Grand Prix in 12th place and team-mate Michael Schumacher retiring.
• Both drivers had excellent starts with Michael making up one place to third, and Nico moving from seventh to fourth
• Michael was still running in third position when a gearbox problem forced him to retire the car on lap 11
• Nico ran a two stop race with an option/option/prime tyre strategy, stopping on laps 12 and 31
• He would have finished in the points before a clash with Perez on the last lap dropped him to back to 12th place
'I had a perfect start today and was able to gain three positions, however unfortunately we weren't able to maintain that pace, and the race did not turn out as we had hoped. The end was particularly unfortunate with Perez when we touched on the straight, causing a puncture which took away a points scoring finish. We have a lot of work to do to understand what went wrong, and how we can use the full potential which our car definitely shows. I'm still positive as Malaysia is a completely different track so I'm looking ahead to next weekend now.' Michael Schumacher
'It was an unfortunate end to my race when I lost drive going into turn one. I was trying different gears and occasionally the drive came back, but in the end, I had to go onto the grass to avoid the risk of the car being forced into a spin. It was especially unfortunate as we have not had this problem during the winter tests and were very reliable. This is why I am not concerned, as I know things like this happen in racing, and our reliability is not in question. I believe I could have had a good race this afternoon and I can still take some positives out of the weekend, as we have seen our car was confirming our feelings, and is definitely a clear step forward. We can now build on that and start improving further.'Ross Brawn
'After a very encouraging weekend, today was not a good result for us. Despite excellent starts, both Michael and Nico had difficulties from the start of the race with their tyres. With the development of the circuit and the track temperatures, we fell out of the working window, and struggled with degradation. However we remain positive as both here and over the winter tests, we have demonstrated that we have a fundamentally quick car and we have a lot to build on. So we need to look at what happened today, unravel the problem and work out where we need to improve.' Norbert Haug
'Michael was defending third place when his gearbox had a problem which caused his retirement. Nico did not have the necessary speed due to problems in the tyre usage, the reason for which we are currently investigating. The collision on the last lap cost Nico points but more concerning for us today is that we could not use the tyres as we did during testing and earlier this weekend. The team will work hard to understand the problem and to be in better shape next week in Malaysia.'Source - Mercedes-Benz
Race Preview Feature Three: Cracking the Conundrum
Two races into the 2012 season, and firm conclusions are very hard to come by when assessing the true competitiveness of the teams. The results from the first two races indicate that this could be one of the most open seasons for years, with seven different teams finishing in the top ten in Melbourne and nine in the mixed conditions of Sepang. Even in qualifying, the margins are incredibly close: the top ten qualifiers from Q2 at the first two races were separated by an average of eight-tenths of a second, compared to 1.5 seconds in the first two races of last year. In such a tightly matched field, small details make a huge difference.
For MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS, the time between the races in Malaysia and China has been spent trying to unravel a conundrum: why hasn't strong qualifying speed been translated into a similar level of competitiveness on Sundays?
In both races, our problems have been related to getting the tyres into the correct working window, explains Team Principal Ross Brawn. However, at each race it was at different ends of the scale: in Melbourne, we overheated the tyres it was under control on Friday, then we developed the set-up in a direction which did not prove helpful in the warmer conditions. In Malaysia, having done a lot of work in practice to make sure we didn't suffer from the same problem, the cooler conditions on Sunday dropped us out of the window again.
Temperature readings give a clearer picture of the shift: while on Friday and Saturday, track temperatures were in the mid-40s in Sepang (peaking at 45 C on Friday), they hovered around 30 C in the race. In the dry at the end of the race, we got the car working more effectively and our pace was more respectable. But I still don't feel we really got the tyres working well, gripping hard and operating at optimum temperature.
The consequence of the drop in temperatures was to flip the primary challenge of the race on its head: instead of needing to protect the tyres from overheating, it was critical to generate tyre temperature in the cooler conditions. More than one team experienced a loss of relative competitiveness compared to Saturday. The result in Malaysia was a great one for Formula One but certainly not what would have been predicted before the start, continues Brawn. Like other teams at the front of the grid, we spent two days getting tyre temperatures down and then, in the race, found that we needed to work the tyre harder. The cooler conditions reversed what was needed from the cars.
However, circumstance alone does not explain the team's difficulties at the opening races of the season. We have too narrow a window in which we are operating the car and we have to broaden that, and build more tolerance into how we are using the tyres, explains Brawn. When we encounter challenges like this, we look at all areas of the car and we challenge ourselves collectively to find the solutions we need. But our qualifying speed tells us that the fundamentals of performance are there: you can't do the lap times if you don't have enough downforce, horsepower or a good chassis.
So far, the potential of the F1 W03 has only been glimpsed on Saturday. At both races, the best of the team's cars has qualified less than half a second from pole position in 2011, the closest the team got to pole was 0.525s in Turkey. The step forward in basic performance is clear to see and there is no reason to believe that it cannot be translated to race conditions.
Our objective is to build the best car we can for the race and our qualifying performances are a consequence of that, continues Brawn. Nothing has been consciously done to focus on making the car quick in qualifying, and not so good in the race, because under the current rules with DRS and the number of pit stops there are no real rewards for doing so. Úsing the tyres properly is vital for success, and it depends on a number of factors, including set-up, the downforce the car is generating and the drivers' approach. Within the set-up variations we can choose, we have the opportunity to find the right solution. But it's a learning process, and we missed the mark at the first two races.
What then of prospects for Shanghai? Practice data from Sepang indicated that, in dry conditions, race performance should have been more consistent than in Melbourne. China will provide an opportunity to confirm this. Our analysis since Malaysia has given us an even better understanding, and we have plans and actions in place to improve our tyre management, concludes Brawn. We clearly have a reasonably quick car we have shown that in qualifying and now we have to convert our speed into race performance.Source - Mercedes-Benz
2012 Chinese Grand Prix - Preview
Round three of the 2012 Formula One World Championship, the ÚBS Chinese Grand Prix, takes place at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday 15 April. The 5.451 km Herman Tilke designed circuit made its debut on the calendar in 2004 and is shaped to represent the Chinese 'shang' character.
• Since 2004, the eight races have been won by seven different drivers; only Hamilton has won twice (in 2008 & 2011)
• The 1170 m back straight is among the season's longest, with the cars at wide open throttle for 15.5 seconds
• At peak revs on that straight, the engine's pistons will be accelerating at 81,000 m/s2 , equivalent to over 8,250 G
Source - Mercedes-Benz
'When I think about the Chinese Grand Prix, the fans are the first thing that comes to mind. For many years now, I've had a big and loyal fan base there, and it's still very touching to see the lengths they go to in supporting me. A big thank you to all of them! As for the race itself, I've never had much luck in Shanghai, apart from my win in 2006; however that could change this year. In the first two races of 2012, we didn't manage to maintain our qualifying pace in race conditions. We've been working intensively on this, so that we can offer our fans a strong performance in China.'
'I have good memories of the Chinese Grand Prix as I was on the podium there in 2010 and led the race last year. I like the Shanghai International Circuit very much with its many unique, long corners. For me, China is really the start of the season as the first two races have not gone to plan. The track is quite different to the first two, as it demands more from the front tyres than the rears – in other words, what is termed a front-limited circuit. We know that we have a quick car, but we are looking to improve our long run pace in China next weekend and to have a better race performance.'
Ross Brawn, Team Principal
'The Chinese Grand Prix takes place at the very impressive Shanghai International Circuit and has really established itself on the Formula One calendar in recent years. China is an important and growing market for our sport, and indeed for Mercedes-Benz, and we look forward to our annual visit next week. On track, we hope that the weekend will prove more successful than the first two races of the season where our race results did not match expectations after a positive start to both weekends. A lot of hard work and analysis has taken place back at the factory since our return, and I hope to see these efforts pay dividends next Sunday in Shanghai with a performance which reflects the capabilities of the F1 W03.'
Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
'The first two races of the 2012 Formula One season have been ones of unfulfilled promise for our team. Michael's second row qualifying positions were less than half a second from pole in Australia and Malaysia, however at both events we did not convert our qualifying speed into a consistent race performance on Sunday when it counts. Since the last race in Malaysia, the team has conducted analysis of our tyre usage during the first two rounds, and how we can improve. The Chinese Grand Prix will provide an answer on our progress, although weather conditions and circuit characteristics will be different to either Melbourne or Malaysia. The 1170 metre back straight accounts for over 20% of the lap distance, the cars exceed 285 kph on four different occasions, and nine of the circuit's corners are considered to be low or medium speed, with five taken at less than 100 kph. Our team has been hard at work since Malaysia, and we hope to be able to translate our learning process into consistent and competitive lap times on race day in China.'