W08: Technical analysis of Mercedes’ new car for 2017

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Today we got to see what the world champions have made of the radical new regulations for 2017.

The Mercedes W08 (or, to use its full title, the Mercedes-AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+) made its first appearance at Silverstone already showing a high level of aerodynamic refinement. There’s likely to be much more to come as well once it starts testing next week.

Nose and front wing

Mercedes W08, Silverstone, 2017
At first glance there isn’t much new going on about the front wing except that it meets the required 12.5-degree back-sweep. After a second glance you’d think exactly the same, and that’s because there really isn’t much new here (yet) – the cascade winglet has a new subtle mounting bracket to the end-plate and that’s just about it.

The nose, although similar to the 2016 car in stature, is another matter. Although the slender mounts have been outlawed for this year the camera pods remain in a similar position and sit upon almost identical vanes, only shorter. The S-duct is also a carry-over feature. Its design moves away from the simple exit slot utilised previously and instead follows what McLaren have been doing by embedding the car’s antenna in the middle and creating two deeper grooves.

Perforated bodywork already looks like being a strong theme in 2017. It’s used to create elongated vortices that influence the surrounding freestream flow. The turning vanes that hang from beneath the nose are split into four elements, each with their own footplate that are again divided into a total of seven individual aerofoils.

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Front suspension

Mercedes W08, Silverstone, 2017

The conjoined front lower wishbone was a Mercedes staple piece during the hybrid era but this appears to have been redundant this year. It is there but not to quite the same extent. This is because the teams have more freedom to ‘twist’ the suspension arms this season, producing more desirable geometry from an aero standpoint.

There are mechanical changes too: the upper wishbone sits higher and the king pin taken off the hub entirely, creating a visible change to the steering axis. It will be interesting to see if this is changed during testing as the team gains more knowledge about the characteristics of the new, wider tyres. The increased height also clears the way for air to reach the new aero devices behind.


Mercedes W08, Silverstone, 2017

The primary bargeboard takes up almost all of the box area set out by the FIA and features a number of perforations along the base to help seal off the splitter behind. The ‘bat wing’ device that shrouded the ground-speed sensor has been ditched after three years and substituted with smaller turning vanes to assist the Y250 vortex’s journey down the car.

A large, beautifully sculpted vane towers above the bargeboards. This also fits in the regulatory region described above – expect to see these sorts of devices break out as the season progresses.


Mercedes W08, Silverstone, 2017

As the power unit regulations mature the engineers find them easier to cool sufficiently, and so the inlets can be reduced in size and drag decreased.

Most of the cars will be around 15cm longer than last year to manage the larger front tyre wake and take advantage of the larger floor. The W08’s sidepods have certainly extended and as a result the coolers inside can also be stretched and the bodywork squeezed in for less blockage.

Together with intricate bargeboards there are equally complex flow conditioners which straddle the car. These are composed of three elements and reach forward to deflect as much wake from the sidepod undercut as possible. Their curled undersides entice clean flow towards the rear where it can be used more effectively.

These are accompanied by new wing mirrors which appear to incorporate infrared cameras to monitor tyre temperatures. The team’s partnership with Qualcomm has produced a variety of data acquisition and transferring techniques during their recent dominance and perhaps this is another development.

Floor and diffuser

Mercedes W08, Silverstone, 2017

Having finally got a proper glimpse of the 2017 diffusers it is clear that Mercedes have not held back in this area either. It complies with the rules yet already there are new ideas in view. Rather than a simple periphery flap the outboard sections have received, of all things, a bit of front wing treatment, featuring an extreme outsweep to further lure the air from underneath the car.

Having used scallop slots ahead of the rear tyres to displace turbulence away from the diffuser in recent years it is interesting to see Mercedes move to simple perforations for 2017 (albeit as many as nine of them).

Rear wing and mini-wing

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W08, Silverstone, 2017

The rear wing has a bow shaped profile – it is shallower at its tips than at the centre. This gives us some indication as to how aerodynamically balanced the car is, as the team doesn’t feel the need to go chasing maximum downforce at the expense of stability.

During the car’s second runs at Silverstone, while Valtteri Bottas was at the wheel, the W08 sprouted an additional narrow black wing between the rear wheels. This is within the box region of the shark fin so it would be legal. One possible use for this would be to control the wing tip vortices shed behind to reduce drag/back pressure.

The W08 ran without a shark fin but Mercedes haven’t ruled out the possibility of running one during the testing. The very low weight of this component makes it easy to justify adding if it aids the car’s aerodynamic stability.

2017 F1 season

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45 comments on “W08: Technical analysis of Mercedes’ new car for 2017”

  1. I rarely comment here. But just to sway the constant nitpicking here of fins this and silver or gray that, I would like to say, F1 is back to a state where I am super excited about just cars individually running on track, because they look awesome, fast and MEGA exciting.

    Even the relatively speaking “worst” looking car so far, for me the Sauber, looked super-mega awesome in the few second clip on track going at 75%.

    1. well said Sir
      the proper F1 car is back !! fast and With agressive/exciting looks and the Ugly
      F3ish looking “hybrid formula” car is finally gone. We should all be VERY happy.
      It`s the first time since 97 F1 will be using the correct “fullsize” slick tyre without grooves.
      the differance the tyres and the rear wing alone makes is huge.
      I have long predicted much more interest in F1 because of better looking/ faster cars.
      yes the cars are a bit too long and the front wing should be simpler/ smaller. it does not matter F1 is back !!

    2. This is a pretty car. I am going to nit-pick, because chemistry and the iconic nature of cars plays a huge part in the emotional connection people have with the sport and brands within. Ask a Ferrari fan to change the colours to silver and see what kind of reaction you get.

      So here’s my reaction. I’ve never liked that Petronas green. It’s horrid, for me it’s the visual equivalent of nails down a blackboard. The silver that Mercedes use too, is just benign. Nothing doing for me. No chemistry.

      However, the level of engineering on that car is amazing. It reminds me off the last car Toyota built but never raced in the year of the Brawn.

      However the silver and green says brains over passion to this particular F1 fan. Chemistry 101.

      1. @hare Agreed with the Mercedes livery, no emotion whatsoever. However, it does fit the brand, since Mercedes has always been about technology and performance first, both for their road-going cars and F1 cars.

        I do have to correct you on the Toyota/Brawn part: I suspect you mean the TF110, which is the Toyota F1 car that was developed, but never actually raced. But that wasn’t in the Brawn year, which was 2009. In 2009 Toyota did compete using their TF109 while Jenson Button went on to win the championship for Brawn. Although the TF109 was quite a reasonable performing car, it wasn’t that well engineered from the looks of it. The TF110 was on another level, it indeed looks a lot like todays cars (apart from the obvious omissions such as wider tires and such).

    3. Yes the cars look really good this year, extra long and extra wide, should be a real handful in Monaco!

  2. Maybe that mini T-wing is what Hamilton meant when he said it looked like a boat… “Hoist the mainsail”!

    1. That is not a wing, it is a shark fin. A hammerhead shark fin. Hammertime!

      The name is dreadful though.
      Mercedes-AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+ ??
      Come on, they couls better than that!
      Mercedes-AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+ Awesomo Grab yer Manbag Carry Mc Carface {insert an array of emoticons}!
      Anything less would not do, definitely.

      1. FlyingLobster27
        24th February 2017, 8:16

        They were going to go for “Daimler-Benz AG presents the #blessed Mercedes AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+ powered by Petronas Syntium”, but it wouldn’t fit on the front wing.

      2. Haha, spot on! I read at Jalopnik that the name reads like a vacuum cleaner coming from Mercedes, which is so true!

        I understand they want some kind of eco-friendly marketing pointer to the hybrid engine, but “EQ Power+”? Come to think of it, my vacuum cleaner has a better name: Dyson Cinetic Big Ball (with Musclehead!).

        So let’s just make it Mercedes-AMG F1 W08 Hybrid Big Balls. See how easy that was Mercedes?

  3. Curious to see how Hamilton will attack with this awesome looking car. Looks like it is well thought out. My guess is that things will remain the same. Only mechanical failures will beat LH

    1. Im sure thats what Hamilton would like everybody to believe. Wasn’t that what Ham himself said on the podium after ROS won the championship? That was a really ungracious moment for him. I was rooting for him up until that moment. I hope Bottas isn’t too tame for him and makes him work for the championship.

      1. He said it a race before he final race and he was completely right. He lost at least 50 points more than Rosberg due to technical issues or team faults.

  4. Cracking article, can’t say i understood all of it but fascinating nonetheless. Thanks @willt20

    1. No worries mate

  5. These articles always make me feel dumb. I look at thes cars every detail (or so I thought) for a few minutes thinking I have a good grasp of what they’ve done. Then I read these technical articles and notice how many things I’ve missed that seemed pretty obvious only after reading the article. One thing I was curious about…I’m sure designers have taken this into consideration, but do they every design the cars around turbulent air as if following the car in front? Every one talks about it being hard to follow closely behind, but can you actually design a car within the regs around turbulent air so that it can handle better in it? The trade off would be that it may handle like rubbish in clean air.

    1. A car with zero downforce and zero lift would theoretically handle exactly the same in clean or dirty air, but it would corner a lot slower. F1 would be as fun as MotoGP :D

      1. @malcolmtucker Theoretically, you are wrong. Turbulence would still affect the car laterally.

    2. @bnkracing
      “These articles always make me feel dumb.”
      Haha, yes indeed! They remind me of how painfully clueless I am of aerodynamic. I can recognise the cars by their livery, duh.

    3. Can anyone recommend any good books on aerodynamics, just to get a better grasp of the basics?

    4. They could indeed design a car to better handle following another car. However they are so restricted in what they can do that it is probably not viable within the current regulations. If they freed up all of the rules then yes they could.

  6. Great analysis Will.

  7. Funny thing for such a refined car: they wrote “Petronas” in the wrong place on the side, although they still have a lot of unused empty space. They had to split it in 2 parts: “Petron”+”as”…

  8. Michael Brown (@)
    23rd February 2017, 23:16

    I just love the bigger floor

  9. Very nice car!
    It’s a pity the longer wheelbases are defeating the new proportions… They still look,a bit too long and narrow.

    The backswept wings, though… Puke worthy. There should be no place for tasteless decorative features in F1: looks like an inconsequential tuner cluelessly “improved” what was an engineering masterpiece, not knowing any better.

    1. The McLaren’s wheelbase is much shorter, interestingly

  10. I love these articles. But one suggestion: Could you call out or highlight different parts of the picture and reference those specific call outs or highlights when you talk about it in the text? It would make a lot easier to understand what exact detail you are talking about.

    1. Will see what we can do about it for the remaining articles

  11. I’ve just noticed that from the back, but especially from the back at an elevated angle, the rear wing looks very narrow. Compared with the huge 2008 rear wings especially. Why are the wings so narrow, I thought everything was broader, or is that just due to the tires?

    1. Well the tires are enormous.. so yeah, even if the rear wing are same, the tires are making them look small and narrower.

    2. I also believe the new regs allow for a beam wing and the images seem to suggest they haven’t fitted one yet, I thought will would have called that out.

      1. Beam wings are still banned!

  12. Nice car. But, there is so much to improve in aero terms. We’ll see after the test. In my opinion side pods design needs different approach to maximize the use of new regulations. Can’t wait to see if Adrian has something up his sleeve.

    1. Is that you, Adrian?

    2. *Logs off Red Bull Racing PC and goes for coffee break* ;)

  13. Anyone else think that visibility will be hampered with those vanes in front of the mirrors?

    1. Their line of sight is well beyond the vanes and it will be out of focus for the driver

  14. Regardless of what the car looks like, remember that 77 minus 44 equals 33. ;-)

  15. Just thought: There are a lot of new aero bits and pieces on these new cars to get knocked off if they start wheel banging….. :)

  16. @willwood Thank you for these fab technical analyses. Such an exciting time with all the anticipation for the new season, these articles give a great insight into the philosophies of the designs (so we have more to do than drool over or bemoan the liveries)

    I’m intrigued by the Mercedes’ nose. So many other teams have opted for the “thumb tip” so that they can maximise air under the nose and use the mounting pylons to guide the air.

    Do you have an idea why Mercedes have avoided this philosophy? Their nose seems be how the writers of the regulations intended. Do we know in general how they make this set-up work? Is it due to the shaping of the underside of the nose? the turning vanes? Or is it so complex that only Mercedes can know and that’s why no other team has been able to mimic this solution?

    1. @3dom I shall forward these deserved plaudits to @willt20!

      1. Oops thanks @willwood :-D
        Yeah @willt20 I would certainly appreciate your take on the above :-)

    2. Hi Dom, Toro Rosso have now gone in their direction so it is an interesting subject. There is no right or wrong solution, it just depends on how the design works with the rest of the car. At one point a group of people made a decision to go down a certain path and the rest of their car has been designed with it in mind.

      The Mercedes nose works well with the neutral section of the front wing as the pylons are kept very closely together and have less influence on how the inboard part of the flaps work the airflow. It is also probably a bit more aerodynamically efficient and lighter due to its slenderness and simplistic shape. It also creates less blockage to the turning vanes and bargeboards behind.

      The thumb tip is good at maximising the volume of airflow under the car and onto the splitter and this flow can be influenced by the wing’s mounting pylons. I imagine it is also better at controlling air in yaw as the flow is funneled through the pylons along the car centreline. It does, however, weigh a bit more for two reasons, a) simply because it is a larger component and b) the tip needs more material to deal with the initial impact of the crash test.

      Hope this helps!

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