Mercedes aim to run higher rake with W09

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Today's unveiled Mercedes AMG F1 W09 resembles a lot its sucessful predecessor, the championship winning W08. And this is no coincidence, as team boss Toto Wolff reveals. However, there are some interesting changes to come this year with the new car.

It is obvious the new F1 W09 EQ Power+ shares some of the DNA of its predecessor. Affectionately dubbed a “diva” for its occasional lack of predictability, the 2017 Mercedes F1 car was nevertheless the most successful car of the past season.

The aerodynamic regulations remained largely stable for the 2018 season, with the introduction of the Halo and the ban of both monkey seat and high T-wings being the biggest changes. So the team chose to follow a similar design philosophy, aimed at developing the many strengths of the 2017 car and improving its weaker areas.

“We like some of the character traits from our diva,” explained Toto Wolff. “The W08 was the fastest car on the grid, scoring the highest number of pole positions and winning the most races last year. So we were careful not to lose the car’s many strengths just to overcome the difficulties.”

“Last year’s car was never easy to work with, even at the tracks where we were strong,” added James Allison. “We could find our way through the weekend to a competitive outcome, but it was never easy. We hope that we have made some inroads into that and that this year’s car will speak to us as engineers and to the drivers a little more clearly so that it is more obvious what to do to dial it in.”

The new car stays true to the general design principles of its championship-winning predecessor, retaining the same wheelbase and running slightly increased rake. However, working with a well-understood set of regulations meant the team could push the design to greater extremes in every area.

“Across the board, this design is more elegant than last year,” said James. “Last year’s regulations were brand new and we weren’t quite sure which direction they would take us in. So last year’s car had a certain amount of wiggle room to adapt if we had found that we needed to move around certain aspects of the car. This year, being a little more confident of what we’re aiming for, we’ve been able to commit more fully to certain concepts. So we have the packaging much tighter and have taken things to more of an extreme.”