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2019 vs 2018 Mercedes F1 Car Explained!


I’m here with our brand new 2019 car, but also with last year’s car, the 2018 W09. When you look at the new car, the most obvious changes are all the ones that come from the regulations themselves. Because this year has a very large change in aerodynamic regulation, much larger than normal. It was a change that was conceived around about April last year, intended to make the cars better at overtaking one another, better at following one another closely around corners and better as a racing spectacle. The main features of that regulation change you can see in the front wing of the car, the front brake ducts, the bargeboards behind the front wheels and in this rear wing. So, the big aerodynamic change then, what was the idea behind it? Well, if you look at every single Formula One car since 2009, they have all had one underlying aerodynamic theme. And that has been to try and manage the wake of the front tyres. These tyres create a lot of aerodynamic chaos behind them. They generate a nasty wake of low-energy, chaotic air that if you allow that air to fall on your own car, then it damages that car’s ability to generate downforce. So, every year since 2009, we have been developing techniques to take the wake of this tyre and throw it away from the car, as far away from the car as we possibly can. The main agents for throwing that wake outboard have been the front wing, these brake ducts and the bargeboards behind, all of which have been sort of snow ploughing air outboard away from the car, where it doesn’t then fall on your own car. But, sadly, it doesn’t fall on your own car. It winds up on the car behind you and makes it much harder for that car then to follow you. Something which the fans of the sport don’t like, and we don’t like either. So, we all voted for a change to this regulation to try and limit the ability of the leading car to control the wake of its own tyre. The consequence of that you see very, very clearly in the layout and design of the front end of this car. So, you see on the front wing, much wider, more simple, without all of the features that were able to shovel air outboard. You also see front brake ducts that are much smaller as well, with fewer flicks and turning vanes on them for steering the air. And then, behind the tyres, on the bargeboard area, you see a smaller bargeboard again with less authority to try and shovel air outboard. So, that makes a very big visual difference. Wider wing, simpler wing and simpler stuff behind. And, it’s been our task over the last several months to try and take the impact of that regulation in our stride, to try and figure out what we are going to do to manage the performance of the car because we still want not to have to eat this tyre wake. We still want to get that away from our car. But, the regulations have been changed to reduce the toolset that we have, to try and control it. So, over the last few months, we have had a breathless time in the wind tunnel trying step-by-step-by-step to find other ways, subtler ways, more clever ways of managing that front tyre wake so that we can keep the performance in our car that we enjoyed the year before. But, it’s not just the front of the car that has seen that aerodynamic change. You’ll see it too at the back, with a rear wing that is much larger. You can see, if you look at the two wings side-by-side, this one is taller, it’s wider, it’s deeper. And that rear
wing is like that to improve the overtaking of the car behind. Because, the rear wing, although it too creates a big wake, a wake behind it that is turbulent and dirty, what it also does is it throws
air upwards. It throws air upwards at an incredible rate and that air, that dirty air, that wake is thrown up and above and over the car behind. So, by making this wing taller, wider, more powerful, we actually throw the dirty air of the leading car up and above and over the trailing car. So, this is something that should actually help with the overtaking next year, both its size and also the fact that the DRS wing, this adjustable flap that the FIA can allow us to use on the straights, that too is made more powerful for 2019 compared with its 2018 counterpart. So, those are the main regulation changes, but of course as in any year, we are trying to design a car that is not just reacting to the regulation changes but is taking every single opportunity that just straightforward physics presents us, to make the car quicker. And we’ve done that as we did in every season, on every teeny tiny part of the car, trying to get every bit of it pushed to the limit that we think we can get away with. And it’s an interesting thing that things that we thought last year were a source of great pride to us, things that we thought we had pushed to the very limit, now start to look clumsy and naïve by comparison. Take last year’s sidepods as an example. They were something that we made quite a big fuss about last year, because they were tighter than we’d ever managed to make them in any previous year. But, look at these sidepods, look at this bodywork. It is just vacuum-wrapped to the car in a way that we couldn’t have thought possible 12 months earlier. Similarly, on the front suspension, once again we’ve been able to lift them further on this year’s car and the same is true everywhere. If you were to take the skin off this car and look underneath it, you’d find that in every part of the car, it’s been just pushed a bit tighter, made a bit stiffer, made a bit lighter, and just bought more performance. All of it adding up to get us something which we truly hope will be a competitive car once we start racing. And as excited as we are about this car, and we truly are excited about it, we know too that almost every square millimetre of this one is going to change once again by the time we get to the first race in Melbourne. Because, the rate of aerodynamic change at the moment with this new regulation is very rapid. Meaning that this launch car will do the winter testing and then be replaced by a whole new set of clothes, that we will take to Melbourne and then keep developing throughout the whole year.

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