The Mercedes Formula One team has won an incredible 51 out of the past 59 races since 2014 by nailing the switch to turbocharged V6 hybrid engines and forcing everyone else to play catch-up. But did they also nail the 2017 F1 spec? Here’s the most anticipated new F1 car of 2017, complete with the name of a vacuum cleaner: the Mercedes W08 EQ Power+.
Mercedes revealed its newest, shiniest Silver Arrow at Silverstone today, letting drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton take it out on track. Only 17 percent of the components on the car were carried over from last year’s Mercedes W07, according to the team.
“EQ Power+” refers to the new M08 EQ Power+ power unit—the all-new fourth iteration of Mercedes’ all-conquering turbo V6 hybrid, which Mercedes says was built to withstand more intense physical loads and a more severe duty cycle than its predecessors. Cars are expected to spend 10 percent more time at full throttle this year, and Mercedes doesn’t want to have another round of unexpected failures like those suffered by Lewis Hamilton throughout 2016.
“EQ” is Mercedes’ new brand buzzword for its electric cars, and stands for “electric intelligence,” because “intelligence” starts with the letter Q. You’ll see this name popping up soon on all of Mercedes’ plug-in hybrid road cars. Flowing lines of electric blue have been worked into the W08's livery accordingly.
By now, the features common on 2017-spec F1 cars are starting to feel familiar: a hyper-complex front wing, wider tires, lots of curious aerodynamic forms on the barge boards in front of the sidepods, and rear wing uprights that are angled back ever so slightly.
Mercedes’ vestigial shark fin is more of a subtle mohawk on the top of its engine cover, standing in sharp contrast to the meat cleaver attached to the top of Force India’s new car.
There’s a very good chance that we’re going to grow tired of seeing this car, so let’s enjoy it while it’s still fresh. If Mercedes continues their streak of utter domination after winning 51 of the past 59 races since 2014, it will just feel like business as usual at this point. We’ll see far too much of this car leading the pack, and I’ll regret having woken up at 5 a.m. to catch an uninteresting race.
If Mercedes doesn’t continue their hellbent warpath of total F1 annihilation, no shortage of ink will be spilled on whatever may be to blame. Did they not spend enough time on the car? Do the drivers hate each other? How can Merc boss Toto Wolff get his groove back? A flood of takes will soon smother us all as if we were the 2015 United States Grand Prix.
Development of the new car started before the new regulations were even finalized, and a concept was already in the wind tunnel before the final race of 2016. Since then, it has had over 2,000 runs in the wind tunnel.
Wolff also expects Hamilton and Bottas to compete against each other just as fiercely as Hamilton raced his now-retired teammate Nico Rosberg. We’ll see if similar drama erupts between these two.