Mercedes-AMG Petronas has unveiled its title defender for the 2017 season, the W08 EQ Power+ – the latter suffix to the racer’s name a new tag that will find its way on to future road-going, AMG performance hybrid models, according to Autocar.
As with the other 2017 cars launched thus far, the W08 is wider, lower and equipped with wider tyres, featuring ultra-slim sidepods atop a larger floor. The most obvious is perhaps the use of a slim strip in place of the shark fin, seen on other 2017 F1 cars such as the Renault R.S.17 and the Sauber C36-Ferrari.
Similar to the other 2017 contenders and as per the regulations, the W08’s powertrain is stil a 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 engine paired with an electric drive system, and Mercedes will surely be keeping a close watch on the progress of their F1 powertrains. With this year’s upgrades, Mercedes is ever closer to the 1,000 hp mark, reports have suggested.
Speaking to Malaysian press at a teleconference, Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff said that despite its high performance levels, there is certainly work to be done.
“We are giving ourselves performance targets that are not easy to achieve, but at the same time you have to keep it reliable. Petronas and Mercedes High Performance Powertrains have really worked closely together in improving the reliability of the engines without losing any performance,” he said.
Has the team changed their approaches or processes to address last year’s reliability issues?
“Yes, obviously (Lewis Hamilton’s engine failure in Sepang 2016) was a big blow, and it was a blow to his campaign, and we still feel the pain everywhere. It is, again on the engine side, that we are trying to extract the maximum performance from,” Wolff explained.
“I would still say, (reliability) is a little bit of our Achilles Heel at the moment; performance-wise we’re looking good, but we have to make it last, so at this stage I won’t say that I’m comfortable. But you shouldn’t be, because performance targets should be difficult to reach, so it is not easy sailing,” he added.
Behind the machinery are the minds that put them into motion, and personnel changes are abound in the Mercedes camp as well, with James Allison replacing Paddy Lowe in the overseeing of the technical front. Hamilton’s thoughts on this?
“I think it’s always exciting. I have full confidence in Toto’s choices of team personnel, and I naturally wish Paddy all the best, I’ve had lots of great years, actually, almost all of my racing years in F1 was with Paddy, and whereever he goes he’ll do fantastic. James has got a great track record, I’m excited to see what he will bring and how he will integrate with the team; I can only imagine he will add to the team,” the three-time F1 driver’s champion said.
Hamilton’s new teammate, Valtteri Bottas, will have considerable expectations weighing on him, to say the least, heading into the reigning constructors’ champion and driving alongside a decorated teammate.
“Valtteri certainly has the little handicap of having been drafted in very late in January, but he has the talent and he has the experience in Formula 1 to settle in quickly. Today’s the start of the journey, Valtteri and Lewis are going to drive the new car for the first time and we have 8 days of testing, and I think for a driver with his experience, it’s giving him enough time to settle in with the team and find his grip,” said Mercedes motorsport boss Wolff.
“You know, why we love this sport? The stopwatch never lies, and he has probably the best driver of modern times as his teammate, so straight from the get go we will know where Valtteri stands, and we certainly have high expectations,” Wolff added.