Mercedes Launch – The new Mercedes AMG W09 may look fundamentally the same as last year’s car, but there have been significant changes underneath its skin.
With the obvious exception of the new Halo safety device, as well as some aerodynamic regulation tweaking, the rules for 2019 have remained largely the same. This has led to the revealed cars, so far, being very similar visually to last years. This was no different for Mercedes, who revealed their W09 at Silverstone on Thursday.
With the rules over power unit component usage also being tweaked, Andy Cowell of Mercedes’ power unit division, explains the work that has gone in to ensuring the new engine has a chance of retaining its superiority over its nearest rivals: “The amount of change on the power unit for this year is quite considerable and driven by a number of requirements. The biggest challenge we’ve got is lifting our durability limit with the challenge of racing just three engines per driver per championship and two ERS systems. That’s a 40 per cent increase in the distance that the hardware needs to do for this year compared with last year. We focussed on trying to increase the life of the hardware without losing performance.”
“We also wanted to change the packaging of the power unit for the benefit of overall car performance,” Andy continued. “We’ve been working very closely with our colleagues in Brackley, trying to understand the best overall integration in the chassis, the transmission and the aerodynamic surfaces. We’ve also been working on combustion efficiency and hardware friction reduction in partnership with Petronas.”
Technical Director James Allison, who joined Mercedes 18 months ago from rivals Ferrari, explained that the car itself is a more refined version of last year’s chassis, which was known to be tricky to find the sweet spot in:
“Last year’s car was never easy to work with, even at the tracks where we were strong. We could find our way through the weekend to a competitive outcome, but it was never easy. We hope that we have made some inroads into that and that this year’s car will speak to us as engineers and to the drivers a little more clearly so that it is more obvious what to do to dial it in.”
“Across the board, this design is more elegant than last year,” said James. “Last year’s regulations were brand new and we weren’t quite sure which direction they would take us in. So last year’s car had a certain amount of wiggle room to adapt if we had found that we needed to move around certain aspects of the car. This year, being a little more confident of what we’re aiming for, we’ve been able to commit more fully to certain concepts. So we have the packaging much tighter and have taken things to more of an extreme.”