Defending Formula 1 world champions Mercedes AMG Petronas has officially revealed its 2017 car, the W08 EQ Power+, in a media call at a windy and chilly Silverstone circuit on Thursday.
The car also turned its first laps as part of the team’s allowed promotional ‘filming day’ mileage allocation, with three-time champion Lewis Hamilton at the wheel in the morning.
The Briton was on hand to unveil the W08 with his new teammate Valtteri Bottas, who moved from Williams to replace Nico Rosberg in the wake of the German’s sudden retirement following his Drivers’ Championship title win last year. The Finn sampled the car with a brief run in the afternoon.
“It is a big day for me,” said Bottas. “Driving a Silver Arrow for the first time is something very special.
“I have been waiting for this moment for quite a while and also for the test for a long time. I am going to drive the car in less than an hour, it feels real and I am amazed how good the car is looking.
“What I really like about this is how clean it looks, but there is a massive amount of detail on the rear end and bargeboards – development has been done – and how far everything has been taken with this car. It looks cool.”
“It is so exciting to see this thing come together,” added Hamilton, after turning a handful of laps in the new car.
“From working in the wind tunnel, then they have this jig which is into real carbon fibre, you see it all come together, do the seat fitting over the winter and in the last few days seeing it all appearing, somehow they all just slot in perfectly.
“Driving today, naturally the car feels wider, which it is, and the front tyres feel huge. There is quite a lot of grip already even in the cold conditions here.”
While the W08 features a number of design features common across rival outfits’ cars seen to-date in accordance with the new technical regulations, it has already caused a stir among insiders with where it departs from the concepts showcased on the Williams FW40, Sauber C36, Renault RS17 and Force India VJM10.
Most noticeable is the absence of a ‘shark fin’ engine cover extension seen in various forms on other cars so far, which helps channel airflow over the rear wing and improve cornering stability.
The assembled media was quick to spot a unique extra wing – quickly dubbed a ‘T-wing’ (pictured right) – positioned higher and in front of the rear wing, which was briefly tested when the car ran in the afternoon. The concept is vastly different to what has been seen to-date and could well trigger a flurry of activity among rival teams ahead of the upcoming pre-season test sessions in Spain.
The team’s technical director Aldo Costa confirmed that the team would evaluate a ‘shark fin’ design during the tests.
“The launch spec was without the little T-wing, and then we tested it – and then we will carry on in Barcelona day by day testing different configurations,” he said to reporters.
“We will have as well a longer tail configuration to be tested in combination with new rear wings for Melbourne.”
The W08 also sports its fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz V6 turbo hybrid power unit (designated the ‘M08 EQ Power+’), which has had significant investment on improving the primary energy source, the combustion process, as well as its energy-recovery systems.
While the team is targeting its fourth successive sweep of the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship titles, team principal Toto Wolff recognises that the all-new regulations represent a journey into the unknown for all of this year’s ten teams.
“Any rule change brings with it a big reset but also a big opportunity,” said team principal Toto Wolff.
“This is the time to stay humble and keep our feet on the ground. None of the teams has raced under these rules and we all have the same points right now: zero.
But the dominant feeling in the team right now is one of excitement – the factory is buzzing with anticipation. It has been a really motivating challenge to develop a brand new car concept and I have never seen our determination to succeed higher than it is right now.
“We had a curve ball from Nico late last year that left us scrambling a little bit in the winter, but we found a great solution with Valtteri and I am sure that he will form a strong partnership with Lewis.”
Images via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team