MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Gets Back to Work with the new F1 W06 Hybrid Silver Arrow
The MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team today unveiled its 2015 Formula One World Championship challenger, the F1 W06 Hybrid, ahead of the first day of pre-season testing at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain. Drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg revealed the seventh Silver Arrow to compete in the Formula One World Championship to the assembled media, wîth Nico then taking the wheel for the opening test session of the 2015 season at the Spanish circuit.From Revolution to Evolution
2015 marks the beginning of an evolutionary process for the cutting-edge Hybrid racing formula introduced for 2014. But the word evolution shouldn't mask the scale of the change this represents: the regulatory requirements and opportunities, coupled wîth ambitious internal performance targets, mean that this winter has been as challenging as ever. The more stable the rules, the more innovative a team must become to deliver performance from each generation of racing machine.
'From outside, winter might look like a rest time in Formula One. But this couldn't be further from the truth', explains Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. 'Long before the end of last season, development work on our 2015 car became the main priority. The winter months are the most intense, wîth everybody at Brackley and Brixworth working around the clock to prepare for the season ahead. Their dedication is inspiring. It would be so dangerous to rest on our laurels after 2014 – but none of us have any sense that things will be easier now. On the contrary, our motivation is as high as ever. There's a famous Babe Ruth quote I always say to people: 'Yesterday's home runs don't win today's games'. We are fully aware that success is not only hard won but can also be short-lived without the right approach.
'A lot of things have been put in place – not by one individual but by many individuals working as a team. And this has been about taking the right decisions at the right time, trying to avoid mistakes and, if they do happen, quickly analysing why. Even if, on paper, things are lòòking good, we will not fall into the trap of being overly optimistic or trying to make crystal ball predictions because this is not how the sport works. In fact, this is possibly the most brutally honest sport because the stopwatch never lies.
'The launch of a new car is an exciting moment for everybody involved. To see the product of all that hard work turn a wheel for the first time is a great source of pride – and rightly so. However, there is a long road ahead before we reach the first race. We must build a fast, reliable racing car to be able to compete wîth rivals whose ability and competitiveness can never be underestimated. At this point, every team is on zero points. The only thing we know for sure is that we have consistency in our driver line-up for the third year running and they know what's expected of them, just as we know what they expect from us. We're lòòking forward to seeing them push each other and the team forward. It will be another fascinating battle between the two but we must wait until Melbourne until we know if we have provided them wîth a car that allows them to fight each other for wins.'
As the age of Hybrid power evolves, so the requirements for improved safety, reliability, efficiency and performance increase. An intensive design phase combining incremental gains and targeted innovation has produced the F1 W06 Hybrid, a car which delivers mechanical, structural, aerodynamic and weight saving developments over its predecessor, the F1 W05 Hybrid.
'The key factor from our perspective is avoiding complacency', says Executive Director (Technical), Paddy Lowe. 'Expectations are now high and a lot of assumptions are being made about our potential this season. Internally, however, we are fully aware that you can never afford to stand still in any sport – particularly Formula One. We are up against competitors wîth a great history of success and, like us, they will not be content unless they are winning. As the old motor racing adage goes, you are only as good as your last race. This time last year, wîth the new Hybrid technology yet to hit the track, we went to Silverstone for a filming day and were genuinely surprised to see the car drive out of the garage! Second time around we may be over the initial hurdles of the new formula but we keep them fresh in our minds, as it demonstrates that nothing can be taken for granted. The only thing that is in our control is the ability to do the very best we can in every area.
'Of course, like every other team on the grid, we have been pushing harder than ever to find areas for performance gains. But at the same time, we must ensure we are moving in the correct direction. One of the risks wîth car development is that attempting forward steps can easily turn into rearward steps. You have to take risks to progress – but those risks must be carefully managed in order to produce a car that is better than its predecessor. This has been an underlying theme for the team over the winter.
'It is an evolutionary process and this also includes the regulations themselves. Relative to last winter, these have remained reasonably stable into 2015. But this is certainly not to say that the cars we see take to the track in Jerez will be near-replicas of their predecessors. Some changes will be more visually obvious, of course, but the devil is in the detail. Beneath the covers there have been a raft of developments from both a chassis and Power Únit perspective – all aimed at creating a car that is safer, more efficient, more reliable and ultimately faster. With the Hybrid era still very much in its infancy, there is plenty of scope for innovation. The challenge at this stage is to find the key areas for performance gain based not just on what we have learned a year further down the line, but also on where there is room for exploring new and innovative sources of competitive advantage.'PETRONAS – Technical Excellence for a Landmark Year
Having first entered Formula One in 1995, PETRONAS celebrates 20 years of competition in 2015 – and a double decade of experience in honing its fuel and lubricant expertise for the race track and the road.
PETRONAS has been central to the team's performance since becoming Title Partner and key Technical Partner in 2010, wîth a dedicated technology team working on the design, development and delivery of bespoke PETRONAS Primax race fuel, PETRONAS Syntium engine oil, and PETRONAS Tutela fluids – testing chemistries in real engines to deliver ultimate performance.
Following the announcement of revolutionary regulation changes for the 2014 Formula One season, PETRONAS spent more than three years working closely wîth the Team to engineer a brand new range of customised fuels and lubricants wîth a competitive edge in the new Hybrid era. The success story of 2014 proved that they were on the right track wîth their formulations.
Now, wîth a limit of four Power Únits per driver, per season in 2015 compared to the five permitted in 2014, the demands on both PETRONAS Primax fuel and PETRONAS Syntium lubricants are greater than ever. The key to meeting these challenges has been PETRONAS Fluid Technology Solutions – an intelligent approach to fluid requirements that maximises performance through tailor-made product offerings and expert services.
For the new season, PETRONAS has developed a fuel which enhances protection of the engine, provides better combustion and improves driveability. The fuel prevents engine damage by cleaning and protecting the critical high-pressure direct injection system and sensitive engine parts; the fuel formulation has been optimised to provide better combustion by enhanced energy release; and the advanced energy formula has been designed to ensure good driveability for superior acceleration – all while building upon the efficiency gains already achieved in development for the previous season.
With its increased power per litre of displacement, the 1.6 litre Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) of the Hybrid era also runs hotter than its 2.4 litre predecessor. This requires lubricants that do not get too thin under high temperatures and resist oxidation – balanced wîth a requirement to minimise friction within the ICE for reduced fuel consumption.
The engine oil must therefore possess distinct thermal characteristics to withstand higher operating temperatures and cylinder pressures, and be optimised to effectively contribute to cooling. The use of Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) also brings the challenge of heat dissipation, requiring an ERS fluid that cools the system effectively. Equipped wîth a unique formulation to defend against extreme temperature and maintain optimum engine performance, PETRONAS Syntium proved to be a winning formula in 2014, wîth PETRONAS scientists also translating its advanced technology into the formulation of ERS fluid.
During the course of the 2014 season, PETRONAS upgraded its on-track chemical analysis to gain greater insight into the changes occurring in the oil within the engine under extreme conditions –crucial to the demands of adhering to a limited quantity of units per season. This has given key insights into how to further improve lubricant performance in terms of heat management, friction reduction and hardware durability. As a result, PETRONAS has formulated a new engine oil that is now undergoing testing wîth the option for adoption during the 2015 season.
With Formula One Power Únits now aligned to downsized, turbocharged road car engines, this intensive research and development becomes particularly pertinent. Designed to enable engines to perform optimally in the most extreme of conditions, the unique formulation of PETRONAS Primax, PETRONAS Syntium and PETRONAS Tutela products addresses engine needs both on and off the race track. After all, it is not just Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg who need their vehicles at their best – but everyday drivers all over the world.
'We have been working hard on all areas of the Power Únit to increase the conversion efficiency of every single system – trying to make our package more thermally efficient and produce greater absolute power', says Andy Cowell, Managing Director, Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains. 'The focus in this respect has been on combustion efficiency and frictional losses – be they in core parts of the ICE or the ancillary aspects of both ICE and ERS. Development of fuel and lubricants has been critical to this process and we have continued working well wîth PETRONAS in this respect.
'Every manufacturer on the grid did a fantastic job in 2014 in terms of achieving high thermal efficiency and therefore performance from the fixed fuel flow rate. The numbers speak for themselves: a reduction from 150kg to 100kg of race fuel; downsizing from a 2.4 litre V8 to a 1.6 litre V6 ICE; creating a package that was over 30% more efficient than its predecessor – all within a set of regulations that pushed reliability to the very limit.
'It's very much a case of evolution rather than revolution in 2015. Where last year was a case of 'Can we do it?' we are now faced wîth a different challenge – 'How do we improve it?' Everybody has the opportunity to change a significant portion of the Power Únit for 2015 to further improve efficiency and, once again, performance
'We're all also pleased and excited to have another Power Únit manufacturer, Honda, joining Formula One. This is good news for the sport, for the competition, for the fans and for the automotive industry as a whole. We therefore offer them a warm welcome and wish them well. Also, we are very much enjoying working wîth our new partners at Lotus. They are a strong addition to our roster of partner teams and we look forward to working together in the seasons ahead'A Story Well Told… Continued
For the second consecutive season, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS will be the only front-running team on the grid to field an unchanged driver line-up. After a titanic battle between the pair throughout the 2014 season, both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have been hard at work in preparation for the season ahead and are relishing the challenge of 2015:
'The winter break was a good chance to relax. I was working right up until mid-December and had been in the factory earlier that day but then had a couple of weeks away skiing before getting straight back into training after Christmas', says Lewis. 'It's never great to get back into that routine but it has to be done and my motivation was not lacking in any way, which is a really positive sign.
'You hear about people who achieve a lot but then lose their focus and you wonder; at what point does it fade off? I'm grateful that the fire is still there in me. I think subconsciously the taste of success spurs me on – I like that feeling and I want to feel it again and again. I'm not going to sit here and say I don't feel like I've won two World Championships – but I'm a racer. I'm glad me and Nico had the battle we did last year. I love winning races but it just feels so much better when you have to fight for it. I just want to get back out there, race hard, be the best I can be and hopefully win some more.
'But just because you've had success before, it's never easy to just carry it on. We've probably made it harder for ourselves wîth the way things went last year – it isn't easy to improve on something that was already so strong when the rules haven't really changed. But we know there are areas we can improve and I know everyone wants to come back even stronger. I've seen the guys at the factory pushing like crazy to put everything together, so it just goes to show that you can't ever really be comfortable. Hopefully we're on the right path. It's not until the end of the last test that you start to get a feel for where the car might be – and even then you don't know for sure. You can never rule anybody out and we'll be keeping an eye on the others as always. Únfortunately for them we have an amazing team and it will be tough to match the work these guys do – but not impossible. We have to take things one step at a time and hope that at the end of those 20 big steps in the season we're ahead.'
'It's been a great winter, although it has actually seemed very long to me', says Nico. 'The lucky thing about this sport as a driver is that you get a lot of down time between each season to rest, recharge, spend time wîth the family and really hit the training hard. But now I am eager to get back to work and go maximum attack for another season. I know the feeling of winning and of fighting for a Championship after last year – but I also know the feeling of not winning in the end and I don't want to repeat that. It's an extra boost and it gives me so much motivation for the year ahead.
'I'm so proud to be in this moment wîth the team – coming off the back of a fantastic year, putting the Silver Arrows right back at the front where they belong. It will be massively tough to repeat what we achieved in 2014 but we all want to keep that momentum going and to dominate the sport for many years to come. We know the opposition will be right there, so we have to keep pushing flat out to have any chance of doing that. Nothing is for certain but, whatever happens, I know it will be another great battle wîth Lewis. This year is the rematch for me and I'm massively motivated for it.
'It's always a really exciting time around the launch – getting to drive the car for the first time, having our first insight into what's new, how it feels, how hard we can push straight away. Then getting into what the set-up parameters are doing, making a few changes, getting a feel for how it behaves. I know so much about the new car from my time at the factory – but only on paper. Getting out there and driving it properly in testing will be an awesome feeling. This is where we build our experience and knowledge for the first race and it's so important to get that baseline right. Melbourne is a long way off but I'm feeling good in myself and confident in this team because, to put it simply, they're just an awesome group of people to work with.'Source - Mercedes-Benz
What has been the focal point of our learning from 2014?
PL: It's no secret that reliability let us down on a number of occasions in 2014. Thankfully, over the course of the season overall, this did not fall in an asymmetric way between the drivers – or in a costly manner to our Constructors' Championship ambitions. But we know we need to up our game. No matter how good things might seem, there is never a scenario where you can afford to leave points on the table. Making a car reliable is a long game and a lot of effort has gone in on that side. It's not about fixing individual issues but about raising quality across the many thousands of parts and processes involved.Speaking of reliability, more will now be required from gearboxes in terms of durability. How tough a task is this to achieve?
PL: During the first year of the new Hybrid formula, there were two notable aspects to the rules governing the gearbox. First, there was a 'joker' available which permitted teams to change their ratio specification once during the year, which is now lost. This means teams have to pick their ratios for the entire season before Melbourne. Many teams took advantage of the 'joker' in 2014 to make performance gains rather than provide an insurance policy – running shorter gears up until Monza before changing to a longer ratio set for the remainder of the season. This won't present an issue, however, as teams are now familiar enough wîth the Power Únits to set ratios for the season wîth reasonable confidence.
The more significant change, however, is that previously teams had five opportunities per driver, per season, to change the physical components of the ratios. In effect, this meant that ratio components could be changed halfway through the six race cycle life of each gearbox. This option is now gone, which represents a far more significant change. Teams must now design ratios which will genuinely last six race distances, which has been a key obstacle to overcome through the winter.The most obvious change, visually at least, comes in the form of the nose. What is the theory behind this change and what else will we see different on the F1 W06 Hybrid?
PL: While it has been widely quoted that regulations governing the noses of the cars have been changed wîth aesthetics in mind, this is actually misleading. The primary reason for the alteration has been to achieve the original height targeted by rules introduced for 2014. This was, to a greater or lesser extent, bypassed by every team last season, as the regulations were not quite tight enough. The objective behind the regulation itself is one of safety – ensuring compatibility wîth the range of different impacts that Formula One cars can experience. An example would be contact between the nose and a rear tyre, as we saw when Mark Webber launched into the air at Valencia a few years ago. The required nose height has been achieved by putting in place a number of additional constraints concerning the front nose sections.
A by-product has been the disappearance of some rather unfortunate lòòking designs as seen in 2014. Our nose was one of the shortest on the grid in 2014 and, in my opinion at least, one of the most attractive. It remains as such for 2015, albeit a little lower to comply wîth the new regulation. The core concept is to keep the nose as short as possible, wîth the mainplane of the wing as far forward of it as possible. This has produced a 'clinging on by your fingernails' kind of appearance where the wing attaches to the pillars, which is a big challenge to deliver structurally. Front wing stiffness tests today really do push the limits of engineering – particularly when coupled wîth the requirements of the front impact test.
The other more obvious visual differences concern the rear wing – which will move to a central, single pylon configuration for structural and aerodynamic reasons – and the external front suspension, which is an even more extreme version of the innovative concept we introduced last year.
And under the covers?
PL: One of the big challenges of 2014 wîth the new Power Únits was cooling – particularly the charge air cooling, which was a significant new element. Now in its second year of evolution, we have been able to go through the analysis loop to find performance through a better optimised solution – the objective being to find the best net performance at the full range of temperatures experienced through a season.
Another technical talking point of last year was the ban on FRIC, which came around quite quickly and unexpectedly. The suspension concept in the W05 was built around the presence of the FRIC system. The W06 suspension system has been designed without FRIC from the outset, which has presented opportunities to re-optimise in this area.For all teams – and more notably drivers – weight was a key consideration in 2014. How will this alter for 2015?
Engine : 1.6 L., 6-cylinder
Power: 600 hp
PL: When the rules were put together for the new generation of Power Únits, it was quite tricky to estimate what weight would be required to incorporate the new systems into a car. The number that was picked was quite aggressive – something which became apparent as the season drew closer. Some teams were content wîth the previous limit, while others were finding it very challenging. A 10kg increase was agreed only by majority vote, which is why there has been a notice period for the rule to be introduced for 2015. In addition the 2015 tyres are around a kilo heavier than last year due to improvements to the rear construction, so the final weight limit is 702kg – an increase overall of 11kg.
As always, it's a matter of choosing how best to use the extra weight for the most performance – not necessarily a chance for the drivers to start eating cakes! Saving weight has always been central to the sport – creating efficient structures that are lighter but also stronger and more aerodynamically beneficial. We have put a lot of work into finding those few percentage points on every single component.
On the topic of safety, further changes have now been introduced to provide improved driver protection – talk us through these?
PL: Firstly, the Zylon anti-intrusion panels on both sides of the survival cell have been extended upwards to the rim of the cockpit and alongside the driver's head. This was an area which was identified as having the potential to be stronger than it has been in the past and these changes will address that. In certain incidents, it will certainly be beneficial to the safety of the driver.
Furthermore, in an additional bid to improve safety, a Virtual Safety Car (VSC) system has been implemented to ensure drivers slow sufficiently under certain conditions. This was successfully trialled during practice sessions towards the end of last season and has now been introduced fully for 2015. It can be used to neutralise a race without having to introduce the safety car itself by enforcing a speed profile to which the drivers must adhere. This addresses one of the pitfalls of waved yellow flags. While drivers are expected to slow significantly in such circumstances – and the stewards will look for throttle lifts accordingly – what constitutes a 'lift' can be subjective. These can be very minor and yield little speed reduction. Of course, racers being racers, they will always be inclined to push the boundaries. So, the VSC is a mechanism to manage those mid-range incidents where it will be much safer to force the drivers to stay well within the limits of the vehicle.2015 Technical Q&A wîth Andy Cowell
As we approach the second season of the Hybrid Formula One era, just how impressive was the inaugural year for this revolutionary formula?
AC: Every manufacturer throughout the grid did a fantastic job in 2014 in terms of achieving high thermal efficiency and therefore performance from the fixed fuel flow rate. The numbers speak for themselves. A reduction from 150kg to 100kg of race fuel; downsizing from a 2.4 litre V8 to a 1.6 litre V6 ICE; creating a package that was over 30% more efficient than its predecessor – all within a set of regulations that pushed reliability to the very limit. Race retirements directly related to any element of the Power Únit averaged less than one per driver over the course of the season. Lap times in the final few races were frequently under a second shy of their 2013 counterparts in race trim and less than half a second off in qualifying trim. This was a phenomenal achievement for everyone involved. Everybody has the opportunity to change a significant portion of the Power Únit for 2015 to further improve efficiency and, once again, performance…How does 2015 differ from 2014 in terms of the challenges faced?
AC: It's very much a case of evolution rather than revolution in 2015. Where last year was a case of 'Can we do it?' we are now faced wîth a different challenge – 'How do we improve it?' We have been working hard on all areas of the Power Únit to increase the conversion efficiency of every single system – trying to make our package more thermally efficient and produce greater absolute power. The focus in this respect has been on combustion efficiency and frictional losses – be they in core parts of the ICE or the ancillary aspects of both ICE and ERS. Development of fuel and lubricants has been critical to this process and we have continued working well wîth PETRONAS in this respect. There is very significant scope for change under the regulations and significant opportunities to make performance gains, so we have left no stone unturned in our quest for performance – and I am sure that exactly the same is true of our competitors.What are the main regulatory changes for 2015?
AC: From a Power Únit perspective, there have effectively been two major regulation changes introduced for the 2015 season. Firstly, a maximum of four Power Únits are now permitted per driver, per season – a reduction from the five available in 2014. Coupled wîth an increase in the length of the calendar from 19 to 20 races this presents a significant challenge, wîth each Power Únit now required to last over 25% longer than before.
Secondly, variable inlet systems are now permitted. The last generation of Formula One engines that were permitted to use such technology were those of the V10 era. This provides an opportunity to optimise the inlet tuning of the ICE against all operating RPM values, thus improving efficiency.
Finally, there has been a clarification of the rules governing engine modifications. Manufacturers now have the opportunity to introduce upgrades to their engines throughout the season – provided they remain within the overall limit of 32 development 'tokens' and do not exceed the maximum of four engines per driver, per season. This story has been much debated in the media but, from a regulatory point of view, it presents an equal opportunity for each manufacturer to improve their engine as the year progresses.
This decision hasn't altered our development strategy for 2015, which was always to gather the necessary data from pre-season testing in order to define and submit the engine specification for the opening race. However, it does offer the opportunity to exploit this interpretation for further gain later in the season, should we choose to do so.There have been wider changes too in terms of fresh faces and new partnerships…
AC: Indeed. Firstly, we're all pleased and excited to have another Power Únit manufacturer, Honda, joining Formula One. This is good news for the sport, for the competition, for the fans and for the automotive industry as a whole. We therefore offer them a warm welcome and wish them well. Also, we are very much enjoying working wîth our new partners at Lotus. We have a great admiration not only for the achievements of the team at Enstone over the years but also for their professional approach to creating racing cars. They are a strong addition to our roster of partner teams and we look forward to working together in the seasons ahead.Source - Mercedes-Benz