Mercedes unveils the AMG F1 W08 EQ+: Will this car dominate Formula One in 2017?

We’re just days away from the start of F1 testing, and that means we’re starting to get a good idea of what the new 2017 cars will look like. New rules mean they’re wider and more aggressive than last year’s cars, and just 24 hours after Force India launched its challenger, Mercedes has unveiled the car it hopes will bring home its fourth successive constructors’ and drivers’ championship.

Named the Mercedes-AMG F1 W08, the new car keeps to the 2017 rules, so it’s much wider than before. However, at the rear of the car at least, the team has been able to keep things streamlined, with tight bodywork stretching over the engine and gearbox area. This means there’ll be more airflow to the rear wing and diffuser, two areas critical for generating all important downforce.

Unlike other cars we’ve seen this year, the W08 doesn’t have a “shark fin” or large stabiliser protruding from the engine cover, although it’s possible the team will experiment with one last year. Overall, though, it shows a continuation of the concepts that brought the team huge success over the past few years – and some new ones, too, including “horns” either side of the driver cockpit.

Driver feedback

“Yesterday was the first time I’d seen the car coming together, seeing the guys working in the factory putting this thing together,’ said three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. “It’s the most detailed piece of machinery I’ve seen so far in Formula 1.

“So I was super-excited to see what it felt like and today I got to drive it for the first time. It felt pretty awesome – but it’s very gusty here [in Silverstone].”

Lewis Hamilton has a new teammate in Valtteri Bottas this year, too, and Bottas is equally excited about the new car. “It feels real [now], and I’m just amazed at how good the car is looking. What I really like about this is how clean it looks, but at the same time there’s a massive amount of detail in all of the areas,” he said.

“The rear end, around the bargeboards, the front wing – all these details and all the development that has been done and how far everything has been taken with this car.”

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Interestingly, the car’s full name is the Mercedes-AMG F1 W08 EQ+, with that EQ+ bit replacing the word “hybrid” from last year’s challenger. That ties in with Mercedes’ forthcoming range of EQ electric cars, and it’s reminder of how Formula 1 is as much about marketing as it is about speed and technological advancement.mercedes_amg_w08_3

Mercedes’ new EV agenda

“It’s a new brand for Mercedes-Benz, which is going to be implemented in all plug-in hybrid cars on the road. It stands for electronic intelligence, so we’re having it on the car for the first time,” said Toto Wolff, team principal of Mercedes.

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“[There’s] synergy in terms of intelligence in the road cars and intelligence in the race cars, but there’s a lot of technology transfer in both directions. Not only from the race car into the road car but the other around – we get helped an awful lot by Stuttgart [and] we’ve had situations where they gave us the solutions. It goes both ways so it is a great collaboration.”

We’ll be talking to Andy Cowell, the person behind the new hybrid powertrain, later this year, but you can read the story of the very first Mercedes-Benz hybrid power unit here.

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