Mercedes W09

Mercedes W09: Technical analysis

F1 technology

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The phrase ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ is heard a lot at this time of year. But if it’s true for anyone it must be the world champions.

Although Mercedes did not dominate 2017 the way they did 2014-16, they still won 11 races and wrapped up both championships with weeks to spare. And so the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport F1 W09 EQ Power+ – which for obvious reasons we will simply refer to as the Mercedes W09 – is clearly an evolution of the W08.

Mercedes W09
Mercedes W09

Up front Mercedes have refined their caped nose concept which was introduced in Spain last year, replacing the hanging turning vanes that everyone else utilises. The cape adds significant weight to the structure so the nose is tapered towards the front bulkhead to reduce material volume.

The transition between the nose and bulkhead has been softened by extruding the suspension clevises in the same fashion as Red Bull.

Mercedes W09
Mercedes W09

The team has retained its the high upper wishbone suspension, a configuration which has been widely copied by others this year. They have applied this thinking to the rear, too: the upper wishbone has a notably higher pickup point at the upright than before. This is also part of a trend seen elsewhere in the field.

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The engine fire-up video Mercedes release indicated the central exhaust exit had been bridged to clear something. We can now see this is the higher inboard mounting for the upper wishbone. On first impression the reason for doing this seems again to be aerodynamics. But this may not be the case.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W09 launch, Silverstone, 2018
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W09 launch, Silverstone, 2018

It is well known that it was sometimes difficult to get the best out of the W08, particularly at street circuits and venues with low surface roughness. According to James Allison the wheelbase on the W09 is exactly the same as its predecessor, as across the season it was advantageous (from an aerodynamic perspective at least).

It is therefore reasonable to assume this change to the rear suspension is designed to address the problem. The lower wishbone appears to be similar in geometry and stature to that on last year’s car, so the re-positioning of the upper wishbone in the manner they have done would raise the rear roll centre. This will create less roll at the rear, generating more energy through the tyres which will perhaps allow them to stay within their operating window better than before.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W09 launch, Silverstone, 2018
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W09 launch, Silverstone, 2018

The bargeboards on the W09 are a much tidier version of what had become a patchwork of carbon fibre towards the end of 2017. Indeed it is this area of the car that is most intricate and beautifully finished, introducing a few ideas from other cars (notably the fluted footplate) while retaining their core design, including the horns that attach to the tub.

The sidepod inlets are narrower and form the basis of the trailing bodywork, which hugs the car tightly and more elegantly than last year’s hunched design to help guide airflow over the floor below, through various aero devices and onto the top of the diffuser at the back.

At the back of the car are a few subtle changes. The single rear wing support no longer breaches the exhaust pipe, the team going back to an inverted Y-shaped pillar that wraps around the exhaust and attaches to the rear crash structure. Over the winter the FIA have clamped down on monkey seat winglets, and so just a minimalist single element design is perched on the support to influence the exhaust plume.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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Posted on Categories 2018 F1 season, F1 Technology

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  • 6 comments on “Mercedes W09: Technical analysis”

    1. “This will create less roll at the rear, generating more energy through the tyres” – quite the opposite mate! That’s the problem they’re trying to address.

      1. Read this, very interesting..

    2. This is how Championships are won. Refine the little bits as little as is needed. Its obvious Mecedes sees what works on other cars and has reacted. Im curious to hear of the numbers of laps to be run at Barcelona. The tale of where things stand for 2018 will be known within a week. Mercedes will dumb it down and roll off hundreds of fault free laps. Those with just a handful of laps may already be in trouble. It will be obvious. I would love to see some team step it up and become the next Mercedes but l also respect seeing a team crush the opposition like Mercedes does by mastering technology and
      rising to the challenge. The cars look great and im ready to watch Formula One grow and become greater.

    3. Mercedes won 12 not 11 races in 2017 9 races won for Lewis H and 3 for Vat Bot.

    4. I whisper it to myself quietly, but maybe this could be the year that Merc can be overhauled. Merc are sticking with low-rake and playing it up – but does the high-rake concept have more development room? Merc can’t / don’t want to take the performance hit while they master it, but it could be a losing compromise.

      Last years Ferrari and RB were faster chassis at some circuits, including towards the end of the year (RB only later in the year, it took them a while to master the 2017 regs / recover from the loss of FRIC – they probably won’t fumble it this year).

      Ferrari lost by a good margin in the end, but (relatively speaking) lost a lot of points for reasons other than pure chassis performance. Merc was near perfect, just a gearbox penalty for Lewis. Ferrari had a string of failures, lost more points to driver failings, and sometimes were just plain unlucky (did any of the early season safety car gambles pay off?).

      Luck is ephemeral, reliability can be fixed – they are confident enough in the 2018 PU to have vetoed attempts to raise the engine limit. They can also be certain they won’t lose oil-burning mid-season. This year might herald changes at the front.

      Or maybe the W08 was badly hurt by losing FRIC, and this years chassis is a big step up.

      Either way, we should know better in a month or two.

    Comments are closed.