Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W06 launch, 2015

“It looks like a boat”: Hamilton on new Mercedes

2017 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton says Formula One’s larger cars for 2017 will take some getting used to.

New technical regulations for 2017 have increased car widths from 1,800mm to 2,000mm, meaning they are now as wide as they were 20 years ago. It’s the second major change in the look of the cars since Hamilton arrived in F1.

2016 and 2017 F1 car designs compared
Interactive: How new 2017 F1 cars will look
“When the 2009 car came it looked terrible because it’s different,” Hamilton said of the design changes in his first year as world champion. “But then eventually you got in that car and the old cars looked weird compared to the new cars and I think that’s going to be the same.”

Speaking in an interview for one of his team’s sponsors Hamilton gave his first impression of the Mercedes W08 which is due to be launched on Thursday. “I mean it looks like a boat,” he said. “It’s so big, so much bigger than before. It’s wider, longer.”

“From the cockpit back to the axle there’s so much material. In 2007, 2008 the distance between the fuel tank and the rear axle was really short. So it’s a lot different. But I’m sure we’ll grow into it, I’m sure people will like it because we’ve got the wide tyres.”

He also gave another indication of the expected leap in performance from the new cars. “It’ll be flat-out through Copse,” he predicted. “I don’t know if that’s better or not but we’ll see.”

Hamilton admitted he would like to see Formula One cars become considerably simpler. “I would take almost everything off,” he said. “I would go back to a more generic car.”

“I liked having a gear stick. I’d take the quick-shift off, I don’t like these gearboxes that we use today.”

Lewis Hamilton, Oschersleben, F3 Euroseries, 2005
Hamilton misses F3-style gearboxes
When I was driving Formula Three it was Tiptronic so it was forwards and backwards but you had to pull like an engine cut. So it was just cool to come into the corners and have to blip coming down the gears. It was just fantastic.”

“But now it’s all done with the click of a button and you have to work with your engineer to work on the consistency, how much engine braking you use, it’s ridiculous.”

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Keith Collantine
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  • 57 comments on ““It looks like a boat”: Hamilton on new Mercedes”

    1. Sailing to victory then eh

      1. Lul you won a caption competition that didn’t exist.

      2. Actually, I am hoping he will be all at sea

    2. I have to say, I was disappointed when I heard the car length would increase. It’s basically scaling the car up, rather than fundamentally just making it appear wider, which is really what we wanted, aesthetically speaking.

      1. This. Shorter wheelbase. Why is it so long exactly? Just purely for aero. Does anyone know?

        Those massive front wings too, don’t get me started on those! But the tyres, great.

        1. Given that it is the only unrestricted surface on the regulations, lengthening the car increases the floor surface as well as slimming the body. They can only increase it up to a certain amount, as the leakage of air into the floor becomes detrimental. Wider floor means smaller relative leakage. Double win for the aero.

        2. @john-h
          Aero, weight distribution, and reduction of roll, I’d guess.

        3. Wasn’t it something to do with an increase in the size of the fuel tank to accommodate a wider car and added weight of bigger tyres?

      2. Interesting. Never thought about it like that. I guess it is following the road car trend of super-sizing.

        Has the length increased proportionally with the width? I wonder what the proportion was with the last 2m wide cars

        1. @mach1, it is hard to say since no teams have actually stated what the wheelbase of their cars are for quite some time now, and even around 1997 some of the teams were rather reluctant to release that information.

          As a comparison with the previous era, from the information that was released by some teams in 1997, the cars generally seemed to have a wheelbase in the order of 3m (the Prost JS45’s wheelbase was 2995mm, whilst Jordan’s 197 and the Stewart SF01 both officially had wheelbases of 2950mm).

          There is a perception that the cars of the 1990’s had short wheelbases, but they weren’t that short – in fact, there had been a trend for a progressive increase in the wheelbase from the turbo era through the 1990’s right up until the width of the cars was reduced in 1998 (for example, if you compare Tyrrell’s 1987 car with their 1997 car, the wheelbase of their 1997 car had grown by about 25cm over their 1987 car).

          The best estimates I have seen for a somewhat recent car were in 2014, where some fans estimated the wheelbases based on photographs of the cars. That comparison suggested that the wheelbases were about 3.4m in length around then – it might be possible to do that comparison again when the new cars come out to see whether they are actually that long or not.

          1. Michael Brown (@)
            19th February 2017, 18:11

            Wheelbase increased in 2010 due to the ban on race refuelling

      3. Why can’t they get anything right ffs. I got my hopes up for wider cars and then to see the long wheelbase is such a let down. Ofcourse it’s only asthetics but that counts for something surely?

    3. I just can’t get over the fact that all cars look like some gillette 40000 razors, I know the front wings barely weighs anything, but they LOOK like they do

      I kinda cringe every slo mo shot of a car running over curbs when I really get to see the car’s large mustache bumping and swerving. Or even worse, at the slightest touch elements of the wings peel of and we have to listen to Brundle talk about how much/little this will affect the car everytime it’s on camera, with elements flippin n’ floppin around

      I’d greatly prefer the front wings being just a single plane wind single end plates, or removed entirely! And if that is not an option, I’d prefer the sci-fi looking multi plane freaky deaky ones that was around the 2008, they were also butt ugly, but they looked sciency and weird

      1. Yes, I really wish they would try and draft some technical rules that will force teams to make it look similar to this: https://images.cdn.circlesix.co/image/1/1000/0/uploads/articles/jordan_191_4-55ccbe980357e.jpg

      2. @dr-jekyll – I agree. What’s more, all those fussy and complicated aero elements are what give the lie to the claim that F1 is relevant to road-going technology.

        I can buy engine technology becoming relevant for road cars (e.g. a split turbo), but aero packages designed with such a narrow focus and purpose might be as road-relevant as go-faster stripes.

        1. What are you talking about? I put stripes on my Camry and now I can corner like Fernando Alonso.

          1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
            19th February 2017, 18:30

            Lolz you sir just won the internets

        2. @phylyp

          But there isnt only the design of the wings. Theres also alot of technology in creating those structures as light and strong as possible with deformation zones etc.

      3. Couldn’t agree more with how stupid the front wings look

        1. +1

          Stupid and vulnerable. The front wings from 90s were best – simple and INSIDE the front wheels. But, aero is the MOST important thing in F1. How can we get 5 seconds a lap faster without more aero? Can’t wait until they decide to just cover the wheels and be done with it.

          Agree with Lewis, bring back semi-manual transmissions. Or better. What more passes? Missed shifts can help.

          Hope Ross can reel in the big data engineers, otherwise fear F1’s final solution will be driverless cars. Which would solve the driver data-sharing debate and the pesky #1 status dilemma. And save us fans vast chunks of time debating/defending our fav drivers on the internet. ;-)

    4. Even if they used boats Pirelli couldn’t get the tyres working in the wet

      1. Pirelli bashing tch tch – their tyres aquaplane just fine!

    5. Lucky Nico retired then because he was lousy in the wet .

      1. Yeah that was lousy the way he drove past Lewis in the wet at Austin 2015, and catching Lewis so fast at Silverstone that year too that he scared him into the pits. :-)

        1. Lewis won both of those races didn’t he?

        2. Scared him into the pits… ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚. Silverstone in 2015 was not classified as a wet race.

          Who won that race again? What was the gap before the conditions started to change? Wasn’t Rosberg in 3rd place before the it started to drizzle?

          If anything, the sudden change in condition helped Rosberg more than anyone else at the time. Had it stayed dry, he would’ve finished 3rd.

          1. The gap was about 10 seconds, and then when the rain came down Rosberg began lapping 2 seconds/lap faster

      2. People only think of Monaco when judging Nicoยดs wet race pace.
        He was not that bad (Lewis was better though)!

        1. They also think of Suzuka and Brazil.

          1. I think they’re both mediocre in the wet.The whole point of being good in the wet is to beat better cars like Vettel did in Monza and Verstappen did in Brazil,Senna in 84,93, Schumacher 86. Winning with the best possible car is easy.

            1. You just said Hamilton is mediocre in the wet?…๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

            2. Schumi in 1996 I presume?

        2. He was not that bad in Monaco??? He was close to 3 seconds a lap slower than his teammate. In my books, he was absolutely terrible that weekend.

    6. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      19th February 2017, 15:41

      The length of that williams killed my enthusiasm for the new designs, he’s spot on.

      1. Agree. Not yet Class1 offshore powerboat proportions, but getting closer.

    7. โ€œI mean it looks like a boat,โ€ he said. โ€œItโ€™s so big, so much bigger than before. Itโ€™s wider, longer.โ€

      Couldn’t he have just said โ€œItโ€™s so big, so much bigger than before. Itโ€™s wider, longer.โ€ without insulting his team’s multi-million dollar car by calling it a “boat”? This guy has no class, intelligence, or respect to the thousands people that help build the car for him.

      1. mark jackson, then what do you make of other drivers who have publicly criticised their teams, such as Alonso’s famous rants over the radio about how bad his car is? Do they also have no class, intelligence or respect towards the people who work within their team? By historical standards, it’s also pretty mild when compared to the famous criticism of some drivers, such as Prost lashing out at Ferrari by saying that the 643 “was like a horrible truck to drive” and how the team was ignoring his criticism.

        1. I guess it’s one thing to criticize car performance and another to just criticize its look when engineers can’t do much about it under regulations.

      2. I don’t think it’s as much of a knock at Mercedes as it is a knock at the 2017 regulations as a whole.

      3. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        19th February 2017, 20:59

        Mercedes didnt come up with the dimensions for the new car, I wish all the anti Hamilton brigade would say what they really feel about the guy and we all know why the establishment doesn’t like him.

      4. A lot of people, including boat owners will not see that as an insult, I don’t think Hamilton was being insulting, merely descriptive.

        1. Next time your wife asks you how she looks, tell her she looks like a boat. :)

          1. Not even in the same ball park of comparison…your efforts to make Hamilton look like some Saturday morning cartoon villain rather than a guy saying how strange the new regs look in a finished product (one we haven’t seen yet). I mean it seems quite intelligent to be as descriptive as he was to make the divergence from the last couple years to now. And he even said that in 08 to 09 it felt the same, the cars were too big and it all looked out of place then it was the norm. So the guy that drives and basically does this for a career (obviously) probably has a better grasp on what he’s seeing, seen and feels about the cars than some person looking for any reason to hate comments made by said guy.

          2. “Next time your wife asks you how she looks, tell her she looks like a boat.”

            Now this really made me laugh……

            You sound like the kind of guy who always wanted to tell his wife that, but never had the guts to……..lol!!!

      5. Go ahead, Mark Jackson…say what you REALLY mean: Lewis is black and should know his place.

        Come on, we all know you want to say it, so just get it over with.

        1. Let’s not go down this route either

      6. This is honestly one of the most embarrassing complaints I’ve ever read.

      7. According to you mark jackson, nothing Hamilton says or does is right. Just amazing!!

        You have to take EVERYTHING and give it a negative spin.

        “This guy has no class, intelligence, or respect to the thousands people that help build the car for him.”

        And I guess you are the one with all the class and intelligence. .

        You’re beginning to sound like another friend of mine on these forums…..lol.

    8. OK, maybe this isn’t the smartest question but I have to ask:

      Assuming that the tracks are the same width, ff the 2017 cars are wider (and possibly longer), doesn’t that make overtaking more difficult?

      1. It’s a reasonable assumption, but not necessarily:

        Why wider cars doesnโ€™t mean less overtaking

    9. If they’re going to get rid of the paddle’s then might as well bring back a clutch and h-pattern to do it properly. That will really separate the men from the boys with regards to braking technique.

      1. A clutch pedal and cameras inside the cockpit, so people would see what the drivers are doing with their feet. I feel that this is something we’re missing and yet almost no one talks about it. For most people, seeing a driver ‘dance’ on three pedals (with heel-toe braking etc.) is really amazing. It brings the feeling of ‘i could never do that’. It makes the drivers seem someone above every-day drivers. And isin’t that the whole point of ‘drivers shiuld be gladiators’ rhetoric?

        And I know that it would be something against the whole ‘best technology to make the cars go as fast as possible’ views, but – come on! – aren’t we already doing that with restrictions on aerodynamics, TC, active suspension, FRIC, blown diffusers… the list goes on and on!
        We got rid of TC and ABS in order for the drivers to show their skill, a clutch pedal is the next step. Cover it up with the same marketing slogans of ‘pure driving with no assists’. Sell it to the public as the only way of ‘really and fully driving a car’. Implant the idea that semi-automatic gearbox is easier, therefore infirior.

        1. +8 forward shifts.

          Left foot braking is for granny in her camry.

          And Liberty can advertise it as F1: UNPLUGGED or F1: CLUTCH Performance.

        2. The Australian Supercars championship has this, and often show the drivers blipping with a heel-toe on the way into a corner, whilst trading paint with the heavy cars alongside them. It really is great to watch.

    10. To “fix” the look of the 09 cars you just need not to have banned refuelling and reducing the size of the fronts. Longer and longer cars, first for fuel second for aero third because of the new Pu’s and now because of a rule change. 09 only the wings looked disproportioned, now in 2016 the cars looked massive but the tyres small, in 17 they bump the tyres they bump the length as well. I’m sure they’ll look better than 2016 cars but still they coming up to 2000’s Indycars.

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