As is always the case, we’ll never really know how an F1 car fares until its wheels are turned in anger, but given Mercedes’ unprecedented run of six consecutive titles, no one with a sane mind will bet against them making it seven.
In a season that which brings the curtains down on the existing set of regulations (the sport gets a hard reset in 2021), you could say that all the teams are maximising the returns from the advancements made in the last years, and it’s no different at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team.
When asked on the areas that the team focused on improving, technical director James Allison had this to say, “On top of the conventional fare of winter development we made three investments: One at the front, one in the middle and one at the back of the car.
“At the front we have accepted more structural complexity around the uprights and wheel rims in order to provide a higher performance assembly overall. In the middle of the car we have followed the pitlane trend by moving our upper side impact tube to the lower position and banking the aerodynamic gain that comes with this layout.
“At the rear of the car we have gone for an adventurous suspension layout in order to free up aerodynamic development opportunity. All three investments were improvements in their own right, but their real effect is to mobilise a raft of secondary aerodynamic gains both during the winter and, we hope, across the season to come.”
Last year’s W10 was consistently fast across different tracks, it also used its tyres well relative to other teams and was just a bit short on straight line pace on power circuits (compared to the Ferraris) and borderline on cooling over hot races, but Allison is confident that they have raised the aerodynamic efficiency on the W11 and addressed the temperature issue with larger face area on the radiators.
What’s unchanged is the driver pairing of reigning champion Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas (who finished second last season) as well as the management and members of the team, so expect the Mercedes-AMG W11 to be the car to beat once again.