Mercedes have revealed the 2018 car they hope will maintain their stranglehold on Formula 1’s world titles for a fifth consecutive season.
The W09 was unveiled by world champion Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at Silverstone.
What they have done with the rear of the car is massively impressive, that is as tight as I have ever seen, said Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz as he assessed the new Silver Arrows.
The launch marked the first time Hamilton himself had seen the W09 in one piece and the world champion hailed the car he hopes will carry him to a fifth world title as a work of art.
This is the most exciting part of the year to this point – to see the whole car come together, Hamilton said. I’ve seen the development of the car for the last eight months and so to see all the pieces come together, it’s a work of art.
I am always in awe of the team. There are so many people, so many moving parts, and to see them come together and bring their genius all piled into this beautifully sculptured car, it’s amazing. And there are only two of us that get to drive it. It’s such a unique privilege to have.
I was staring at it in the garage and was like ‘how did they do that?’
Hamilton drove the car for the first time shortly after the launch and later tweeted: In complete awe. The amount of focus, determination and expertise into every ounce of this car is astounding. I can’t wait get racing and push this beast to its limits.
It’s so much more than a machine.
What’s different on the new Mercedes?
In addition to a tightly-packaged rear, the W09 features a slightly higher rake than last year, a change that could help the team cure some of the deficiencies last year’s W08 – famously dubbed ‘a diva’ by team chief Toto Wolff – had at certain circuits.
But technical director James Allison confirmed: The wheelbase is the same this year as it was last year. The wheelbase was something that brought us advantage over the season, so we are retaining it as a strength for this year.
There will still be a bit of a diva in the new car because no one has ever produced a car that doesn’t have foibles. We hope that we have made some inroads into that…we have tried to create a car that is a little more regular this year.
And Wolff added: We’ve tried to preserve what we had in terms of speed in the car and find more drivability.
The car to beat in 2018?
Mercedes’ 2018 model certainly has a lot to live up to.
The team have been unbeatable in world title terms since F1’s V6 engines were introduced in 2014 and this year Mercedes are aiming to become the second team after Ferrari (2000-2004) to win five drivers’ and constructors’ titles in a row.
2017 champion Hamilton is aiming for the fifth world title of his career, and fourth at Mercedes, while team-mate Bottas is eyeing a more consistent challenge to the grid’s biggest hitters after three wins last year during his debut season at Brackley.
Mercedes faced the first sustained challenge to their F1 supremacy last season after a big step forward by Ferrari, while Red Bull enjoyed a race-winning end to the season.
And Wolff believes F1 2018 is poised to deliver at least a three-team battle for wins.
We mustn’t discount anybody, said Wolff. Today, as it stands, it looks like Ferrari and Red Bull.
I am curious to see where McLaren and Renault come out. I wouldn’t write anybody off. The rules will stay the same so it could be a very competitive season.
Hamilton said: It’s difficult to know. You see the pictures come out and the ones that have been posted are all very vague, you can’t really see the items they have on the car.
But given that we ended last season Ferrari, Red Bull and ourselves very close, I anticipate we’ll be quite similar in that sense.
Mercedes still won over half of last year’s races, 12 of 20, and boast an astonishing 80 per cent win rate in the current engine era.
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