MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team Gets Back to Business in Barcelona2016 FIA Formula One World Championship contender, the Mercedes-Benz F1 W07 Hybrid, unveiled at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
•MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg today unveiled the eighth Silver Arrow to compete in Formula One – the latest chapter in a racing legacy which began in 1934 for the three-pointed star.
•Toto Wolff: 'We remain humble, feet on the ground, pushing hard to develop every area'
•Lewis Hamilton: 'I've got to make sure I raise the bar again'
•Nico Rosberg: 'I'm absolutely focused and determined that this can be my year'When the Flag Drops…
On the surface, a second consecutive winter of minimal regulatory change may appear to ease the pressure on the Formula One community. The reality, however, is quite the opposite. Progress under such conditions is a game of diminishing returns – making the quest for every millisecond of performance ever-more crucial.
'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 Únit and chassis concept', confirms Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, Toto Wolff. '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.
'After the success of the past two seasons, the obvious target is to build on what we have achieved so far – to continue to win races and Championships. But you can never take anything for granted in this sport – or rely on past success. Right now, all points are reset to zero. We haven't even begun testing yet, so we have no benchmark against the competition. But we can be certain that they will be stronger than ever, so we need to do the best job out there. In Melbourne, we will see. As they say, when the flag drops…
'We gained confidence after the first Championship title in 2014 and therefore approached 2015 in a slightly different way. But our core philosophy remained the same and 2016 is no different. 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.'
In the cockpit, the Brackley squad maintains an unchanged driver line-up with reigning World Drivers' Champion Lewis Hamilton once again paired with two-time title runner-up Nico Rosberg. Having locked horns for the Championship in each of the past two campaigns, this intra-team contest is sure to provide a fascinating plot line once more in 2016.
'The battle between Lewis and Nico is both interesting and challenging for us', confirms Toto. 'If you put two competitive drivers in the same team and they have a shot at the Championship, it's never going to be an easy ride. Not only do we accept that, we embrace it. We also understand that it's important for the spectators to see top drivers given both the tools they need to succeed and the freedom to race. This is what we've done for the past two years and will continue to do this year. They are both professionals. They know that there is a big organisation and a very powerful brand behind them and the team. I hope that the close competition between them will continue as it has done.'
And the talent in the Silver Arrows stable doesn't stop at the wheel of the W07, either. Mercedes-Benz Juniors Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon head into the year with a fresh set of challenges to tackle in their development paths with the three-pointed star.
'Looking to the future, we are in both the fortunate and unfortunate position of having developed two of the very best junior drivers in the world but having no race seats available within our team', says Toto. 'We're therefore delighted to have found them another route into Formula One to continue their growth in the best possible environment. Pascal has a race seat with Manor – a team with great people but one much smaller than Mercedes and with a very different structure to what he's been used to, so he needs to prove that he has the calibre to be a successful Formula One driver in a new environment. Esteban, alongside his role in DTM, will be Third Driver with Renault – taking part in a couple of Friday practice sessions and tests to make the next step in his development. It's great to see young drivers progressing all the way to Formula One on merit, through the support of manufacturers and proven programmes like the Red Bull Junior model. Hopefully this proves to be a productive year for them.'
Further afield, there's change on the horizon for the pinnacle of motorsport. With 2017 set to buck the trend of regulatory stability, the future direction of Formula One is a hot topic throughout the paddock. And there are plenty of positive stories for the current season too…
'We are open to changes in the regulations', says Toto. 'On the Power Únit 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.
'In the here and now, there are a lot of positive stories in Formula One at the moment. As a sport, I don't think we talk about these enough. The return of Renault as a fully-fledged works team is great news – as is the arrival of Haas, which will hopefully help raise awareness of the sport in the States. For Mercedes as a brand, going back to Germany and finally being able to race in front of our home crowd again is brilliant. And then we have a new race in Baku, where most of us have never been before but which I'm sure will be an interesting experience. We have a 21 race calendar taking in almost all corners of the world, which will be a challenge for those working within the sport but provides a fantastic showcase for Formula One.'Fighting Fit…
Their duel has enthralled Formula One fans the world over for two years in a row. But, after the longest winter break in their careers to date, how are Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg shaping up for battle in 2016?
'The highlight of the winter break has been the break! No racing – just family, friends and snowboarding', smiles Lewis. 'My pre-season training regime has been a little different this year. It varies – sometimes you start a little earlier, sometimes a little later. Last year I actually stopped training after Austin and started enjoying myself a bit more instead. So, where I would usually start training again around the 22nd December after an end-of-season rest, this time I got back into it on the first of the month. I was able to have a bit of a break over Christmas – but then got straight on it again in January. It's mostly been cardio to keep my weight down, as I bulk up really quickly with weight training. Running, hiking and even some boxing – which was a new and pretty intense experience!'
'I had a great winter break – spending a lot of time with family', says Nico. 'I spent most of it at home with my young daughter – that's the best place in the world to me! I've been training hard too, of course. The first day after last season finished was when 2016 started for me, so I've really been getting into that and bringing myself up to speed for the new season.
'The winter is when you really need to build up your fitness as, for the rest of the season, you're really just trying to hold it at that level. There's not really enough time to properly increase your fitness once we're on the road, so this is a crucial time of year and you have to use it as effectively as you can. I've mainly been doing endurance work – swimming and cycling, some weight training for the specific racing muscles like the neck and then reaction training with lots of Ping-Pong!'
And that preparation will be more important than ever this year. A record-breaking Grand Prix calendar is set to stretch drivers and teams alike – with some welcome additions to the schedule also in the mix…
'I'm really glad the German Grand Prix is back on the calendar for 2016', says Nico. 'A Formula One World Championship without the German Grand Prix just doesn't feel right. It's a country full of racing fanatics and, being German myself, I really enjoy driving there. I won at Hockenheim two years ago and I can't wait to and try to do that again in front of our Mercedes-Benz home fans. Then there's a new race in Baku, which is exciting for everybody. I've heard good things about the city and the country, plus it looks like a great track too. As always with a new venue, it'll be a good challenge that we'll need to adapt to as we don't fully know what to expect.
'There are 21 races this year, which is great for the fans and for us drivers. But there's a limit to everything and I think that's more or less the maximum now. Thinking about everyone in the team – all the mechanics and engineers, who work so hard on the cars when we're on the road – it becomes too much time away from home and their families. It's probably ok for now – but we need to make sure it doesn't become too much for them.'
'I love racing, so I always welcome more races', adds Lewis. But it's going to be a gruelling season with 21 rounds. It's tough on the team, as they're working so hard and staying away from their families for so long. The cars will be pushed further too and, for the drivers, there are more points to be won and lost, meaning the fight for the Championship will be even more challenging and open than it has been in the past. Plus, we get to see a new city in Baku and head back to one of our home races in Germany – both of which I'm really looking forward to. It should be a great season.'
Of course, the journey to Azerbaijan, Germany and beyond begins right here and now in Barcelona. And both Lewis and Nico have a brand new set of wheels for the ride…
'I've been racing a long time – but when you get to drive a new car for the first time it's still really exciting', beams Lewis. 'It's like when you buy a new road car and drive it home for the first time.'
'It's such an exciting experience, getting behind the wheel of a new car for the first time', adds Nico. 'Especially right now, when you know there's a good chance you'll have a winner on your hands. By the time you get out on track you've seen so many drawings and sat in so many hours of meetings discussing every little detail of the car that to finally get in there and feel it is incredible. I really look forward to that moment, every year.'
Naturally, both drivers will be hoping the latest Silver Arrow has the necessary credentials to carry them all the way through the 21 race calendar towards the title. And despite holding 57 Grand Prix victories, 128 podiums, 71 pole positions, 130 front row starts and 42 fastest race laps between them, the motivation to add to those figures is as strong as ever.
'It seems crazy that I'll be starting my 200th Formula One race this year in Singapore', says Nico. 'It's been a great voyage so far and I'm looking forward to many more to come. Maybe I'll even have a small celebration in Singapore. But really, that's not an important number. I'll save the big party for a Championship win. I've had the car to help me realise that dream twice now but haven't quite been able to bring everything together – yet. I've proven I can win, I've proven I can fight and I've proven I can bounce back. I'm absolutely focused and determined that this can be my year.'
'I don't really think too much about stats – but it's definitely a great feeling when people bring up these numbers as it reminds me of everything I've achieved', Lewis reflects. 'It's crazy to think I am where I am now. Just the other day I was watching a clip of myself karting as a kid somewhere in the ÚK, talking about all the things I'd do if I ever made it to Formula One. I'm living the dream. Not just for myself – but hopefully for people of all backgrounds and ages who have ever wanted to achieve this goal.
'Motivation applies to different things in different ways for me. When it comes to racing, it's simple, as I'm just super competitive. But, when I'm training on my own for example, it can be tough to resist the temptation to let things slip. Every year you have to try to find new sources of inspiration to motivate yourself. I'm very lucky in that I have opportunities in life to find that inspiration in lots of different people, places and experiences – be it meeting fans and icons, travelling to an amazing landmark or seeing a great movie. I'm just as pumped as ever for this season.'
The final throes of 2015 saw a swing in momentum between the pair on track. But can either take control in the opening exchanges of the new season?
'I'm not really too fussed about what happened in the final few races of 2015 as it didn't affect my Championship', say Lewis. 'Of course, I love winning and that's always the goal – but to be honest my attention was elsewhere at that point. It had been such a successful season and you can't win them all, so that was my feeling at the end of the year. If anything, it motivated me. It made me think 'okay, next year Nico is going to be super quick and super strong, so I've got to make sure I raise the bar again.' That's the big question – how do you do that? I've achieved it in each of the last two years – but to do it again for a third time will be tough, no doubt. That's the unknown – but I've been in the simulator recently and thankfully I can still drive, so that's a start!'
'It was a great end to the season for me last year', adds Nico. 'I'm always adapting and modifying my approach and I found a bit of a better way in the final few race weekends, so the aim is of course to try to continue that in 2016. Únfortunately, with a new year and a new car a lot of things have changed, so it's difficult to say whether you can carry things you were doing before across – but let's see what happens. I'm certainly optimistic. I'm looking for that key to unlocking the final step to the title all the time and I will fight for it again this year. The opposition will be strong, of course. Lewis is doing a great job and we need to keep an eye on Ferrari as well. But with the team that we have and the cars I know they can build, I've always got a shot.'Source - Mercedes-Benz
MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team 2016 Technical BriefingStable regulations challenge engineers to dig deep and find 'mini revolutions' for the F1 W07 Hybrid chassis and PÚ106C Hybrid Power Únit
•Tyres, safety and sound all feature on short list of rule changes for the coming season
•Ironing out errors during a record-length season the core focus for Mercedes-Benz
•PETRONAS fuel and lubricants central to progress in both performance and reliability
•Paddy Lowe: 'Our objective is excellence in all areas'
•Andy Cowell: 'These Power Únits are incredible feats of engineering'2016 Technical Briefing with Paddy Lowe – Executive Director (Technical), MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team
What were the main lessons learned from 2015 and how will these help the team progress in 2016?
PL: After a highly successful season all round in 2015, our priority has been to identify the areas in which we were weakest and to try to improve on those. Our objective is excellence in all areas and, while we had some fantastic results last year, there are many areas in which we can still be much better. That's the kind of culture we try to instill throughout the whole organisation – one of constantly striving to reach something better. We had a number of races that didn't go to plan in 2015 – Singapore in particular – so there were a lot of things that needed improving for 2016. We are seeking optimisation absolutely everywhere.
The rules for 2016 are relatively stable – have you gone for evolution or revolution with the new car?
Just how tough is it to find extra performance under stable regulations?
PL: It's difficult to have a complete revolution when the rules have stayed pretty much the same year on year. But we aim to make minor revolutions wherever we can – even within a small context. We may look at a completely new packaging solution or suspension concept, for instance. So, while the car may look very similar to its predecessor from the outside – as is inherent within stable regulations – underneath there are quite a lot of mini revolutions that make up an overall evolution for the new season.
PL: It's very tough to find performance under a stable set of regulations and we were particularly pleased with how the car turned out in 2015 when we had the same situation. The team did a fantastic job – digging very deep to find all sorts of innovations in areas that might have been considered static. 2016 is another carry-over year from a regulatory point of view and potential gains inevitably become harder to find under these circumstances. This is what tests an engineering team the most and I must say that this team has been very good at that. It's far easier to find performance when you have a new set of rules, that's for sure.What are the major rule changes for 2016 that the team has been responding to?
New concepts for 2016 will have minimal proving time on track with the reduction in winter testing. How big an impact will this have on preparations for the season ahead?
PL: 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.
PL: The amount of testing permitted each season has been reduced progressively in recent years. We've now reached a new minimum in terms of winter testing, with two banks of four days. That's something the team has been preparing for by producing better designs and undertaking better preparation and testing in the R&D lab so that we're as well placed as possible to hit the ground running. What's different for 2016 is actually not so much that there are only two tests – but that they're both very close to the first race of the season. This has notably reduced the extent to which we can upgrade the car from 'launch spec' to the first race spec. That window is now very narrow, which reduces the number of potential upgrades ahead of the opening Grand Prix weekend.Tyres will be the focus of attention, with a new compound and a change in the race weekend allocation format. How will this work and will be the impact?
PL: Firstly, there is now a new ultra soft compound tyre which we expect to see for the first time in Monaco. Generally, we've felt that even the soft and supersoft have been too hard for this circuit, so the ultrasoft will hopefully be a good solution there. The new regulation that allows three compounds per race appears quite complicated at first – but in practice it's a lot simpler than it sounds! The intention is to create more uncertainty in the races – and I think where we'll see that uncertainty is at those events where there is no definitive choice of compound for Sunday. We may see teams taking a gamble, which should produce more variation and some interesting races. Once again, a lot has been asked of Pirelli in terms of their contribution to the spectacle. They've done a great job in recent seasons and I'm sure that will continue with these new additions for 2016.There has been much talk about a head protection device for introduction in the future. What is the status of this project?
PL: Since I first came into Formula One in the late eighties, the advancements in safety have been substantial. This has been particularly visible on the cars themselves, with the impact structures and load tests now in place – but also in other aspects of the sport, such as circuit design and facilities. However, as with every aspect of a car, there is always room for improvement. In my view, the driver's head is the major risk remaining in Formula One and other forms of single-seater racing. We've seen quite a few near misses and, very sadly, some fatalities in recent years as a result of head injuries. A number of teams, including Mercedes, have strongly supported research into structures that could protect the drivers from such objects. This is a project which has been underway for several years and the motivation to pull this forward and reach a set of regulations as soon as possible has accelerated. There are a number of suggestions on the table and some of them look very realistic, so hopefully we may even see a solution appear for 2017.2016 Technical Briefing with Andy Cowell – Managing Director, Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains
Mercedes has set the standard so far in the hybrid era. Where has the focus been over the winter to maintain that level of performance?
AC: It's been more of the same. To get the performance out of this new generation of Power Únits, you need to chase efficiency. That's both combustion efficiency and efficiency in the various energy transition steps – i.e. MGÚ-H, MGÚ-K, turbocharger, power electronics and batteries. We're constantly working on every single piece of the puzzle to improve performance at the crankshaft, while also seeking to ensure we don't suffer any of the problems we had last year with reliability. So, it's about getting down to the root cause of issues and making sure that everything is robust across our whole process, as much as extracting performance.The technology in these Power Únits is a story which has perhaps not been told as well as it could have been so far. Just how impressive are they?
There are 32 tokens available to spend across the winter and during in-season development. What areas have been the focus of your development?
Engine : 6-cylinder
Power: 600 hp
AC: These Power Únits really are incredible feats of engineering. We're now running at more than 47% thermal efficiency and producing historic highs of power – and all with an ICE restricted to consuming fuel at a rate of just 100kg/hr. The old-fashioned, naturally aspirated engines peaked at 29% thermal efficiency during the V8 era – while the last time we saw these levels of power in Formula One was back in 2005, with a V10 that guzzled fuel at a whopping 194kg/hr. To halve the fuel flow rate for the same amount of power is quite something.
AC: 32 tokens is quite a lot, so we haven't had to restrict any of our development activity to a specific area. Anything which could yield a decent efficiency improvement – and therefore a decent performance improvement – has been explored and we're now working to make sure our package is sufficiently durable in time for Melbourne.An extra two races on the calendar means an increased Power Únit allowance for the season ahead. How will this affect your approach to the season?
AC: On the face of it, an increased allocation of Power Únits would seem to give manufacturers an advantage, in that each unit is required to complete fewer races, thereby putting less pressure on the life cycle of different components. But the reality is that our durability targets have remained the same. Our target is to make sure that each Power Únit can last for at least five races, meaning that theoretically we only need to use four per driver, across the season. We believe this gives us a good opportunity to react if we have a reliability problem – or potentially to use the extra units to our advantage for a performance enhancement at key races.With in-season development for 2015 only confirmed late in the day, HPP were able to pull forward 2016 development work into the experimental engine introduced in Monza. How beneficial has that proven to be for all the teams running the Mercedes-Benz Power Únit in 2016?
AC: The upgrade that we introduced in Monza last year took a huge amount of effort from the factory at Brixworth and we only had enough resource to supply the works team with the latest spec at that time. However, that is now paying off for every team with Mercedes power, as we've managed to build on that development work through the autumn and winter period. Now, all our customers are getting an improved package that is exactly the same specification as the works team. All eight Mercedes powered cars will have exactly the same hardware and performance potential come Melbourne – which is a good step for everyone.Fuel and lubricants were central to that development step. But how central will the role of PETRONAS be in finding yet more performance from the Power Únit?
AC: The rate of development from the Power Únit over the past two years has been very impressive. Many people thought that there was not much opportunity to move things forward – but that has not been the case. There have been significant new advances – and fuel and lubricants have been one of the main focus areas. Our 2015 mid-season update incorporated a sizeable step in fuel performance from PETRONAS. Then, later on in the year, we also introduced a new lubricant. We've made further progress in the way we've designed the combustion system and also enhanced the properties of the lubricants to reduce friction in the engine. PETRONAS are a key partner for us. They're not just branding on the car – but a deep-rooted technology partnership. Anybody who designs engines knows that good fuel and lubricants are key to performance – and we're very fortunate to have such a close and productive working relationship with PETRONAS.Noise has been a hot topic since the new Power Únit formula was introduced in 2014. What's changing in 2016 to pump up the volume and will this have any effect on performance?
AC: We've been conscious since the start of the Hybrid era in 2014 that the volume has diminished for those up in the grandstands as well as those watching at home. This is down to both the nature of a turbocharged engine and the recycling of waste energy in the exhaust system. The FIA therefore undertook an interesting and thorough investigation to analyse noise in the tailpipe and investigate what could be done to increase noise without impacting performance or efficiency. What they spotted is that the waste gate fed into the tailpipe. So, when the waste gate is not open, it's a dead end. It then becomes a side branch resonator – or effectively a silencer – on the tailpipe. That design has now been removed, so we are left with a nice clean pipe without any silencing points, which should improve the noise of the Power Únit.2016 sees a new face on the Mercedes-Benz Formula One customer roster – Manor Racing. How has that relationship been developing so far?
AC: Manor Racing is a new customer team for us this year. They're a small team but a very efficient one, with a very pragmatic approach. We have a very detailed integration manual with instructions on how to fit the Power Únit, how best to use it and likewise what's not recommended, so we've been working closely with them to ensure a seamless integration. They've been great to work with and we're looking forward to seeing their progress through winter testing and into the season.PETRONAS – Breaking Through Limits
PETRONAS began the race for the winning formula 20 years ago and, since the beginning of its Formula One partnership with the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team in 2010, has tested over 200 PETRONAS Primax fuel candidates in addition to 100 PETRONAS Syntium engine oil and PETRONAS Tutela functional fluids.
Close collaboration from the very beginning the Hybrid Formula One development process has proven invaluable, as PETRONAS played a crucial role in powering the team to consecutive World Championship titles in 2014 and 2015. And the push for progress doesn't end there. The F1 W07 Hybrid will also benefit from the latest in fuel and lubricant technology:
•Performance: New PETRONAS Syntium engine oil with CoolTech for the 2016 season has been reformulated to better fight excessive engine heat – building upon learnings from two previous incarnations of Syntium engine oil introduced at the 2015 Australian and Russian Grands Prix
•Efficiency: Continued Úse of the PETRONAS Primax fuel with Advanced Energy Formula for superior fuel economy and acceleration, which helped fast track the introduction of a development Power Únit at the 2015 Italian Grand Prix – several months ahead of schedule.
•Reliability: Continued use of the PETRONAS Tutela Energy Recovery System (ERS) cooling fluid introduced at 2015 Canadian Grand Prix – formulated using learnings from development of PETRONAS Syntium with CoolTech engine oil – to fight the build-up of heat in the ERS.
With the current generation of 1.6 litre, turbocharged, direct injection internal combustion engines sharing many characteristics with contemporary road cars, learnings from the Hybrid Formula One era introduced in 2014 have allowed PETRONAS to develop PETRONAS Primax 95 and PETRONAS Primax 97 fuels with Advanced Energy Formula.
Introduced in Malaysia during 2014 and 2015 respectively, these cutting edge fuels were followed by the launch of PETRONAS Syntium engine oil with CoolTech in Asia and Europe during 2015, with Syntium 7000 becoming the factory fill for a growing range of Mercedes-AMG turbocharged direct injection road-cars.Source - Mercedes-Benz