We are in the second year of the hybrid era for Formula 1, and Mercedes, on a rainy day dedicated to the classic filming days granted by the FIA, presents the new W06 Hybrid. A car, the one designed by Geoff Willis and Aldo Costa, which inherits the great weight of the winning W05, and is called to defend the title from the onslaught of Red Bull Racing, but above all by Ferrari, which will clearly prove to be the second force on the field, during the 2015 season.
W06 Hybrid, a whole new car
The car is not a simple evolution as many might think. In fact, the new shape of the nose is immediately evident, much more tapered and with a less sinuous trend than the previous one, while in the rear area a very clean rear end is introduced, and more tapered, compared to the previous model.
During the previous season, the Anglo-German engineers noticed that the rear tires deteriorate abnormally, with the tank fully loaded, therefore, during the winter and during the winter tests, the team will focus more on long runs, carried out mainly with the medium compound, supplied by Pirelli.
The changes also affect the suspension area, as well as the rear, where a totally renewed tail design makes its debut, designed to guarantee riders even greater driveability, thanks to the increase in downforce levels.
Obviously, the engine is also subject to token updates, as per regulation, and given the changes, it passes to the PU106B Hybrid nomenclature. The power unit, which weighs only 145 kg, sees some improvements in the energy recovery system, and in the management of the heat generated by the endothermic unit.
A year full of satisfactions
It goes without saying that the Mercedes W06 Hybrid also stacks up victories in 2015, being stopped only three times by Ferrari in Malaysia, Hungary, and Singapore.
In fact, at the expense of sixteen wins, eighteen poles and thirteen fastest laps out of nineteen races, the real weakness of the car of the Stuttgart car manufacturer is the deterioration of the tires in conditions of high asphalt temperatures, and another point not to be missed underestimate is the difficulty of the team to read the race situations in real time, adapting the strategy of the drivers in critical conditions, such as in the Malaysian Grand Prix, the second round of the season, an occasion in which the Anglo-German team will underestimate the speed and Ferrari's tire management skills, making no changes to its strategy when the safety car takes over seven laps from the start.
The two standard bearers of the silver arrows will chase Sebastian Vettel for a long time, without being able to fill the gap. In China, Mercedes will once again prove to be the most competitive car of the lot, nimbly winning the race with Lewis Hamilton, followed by Nico Rosberg, both starting in first and second position.
The season continues with the fourth round of the season in Bahrain, a race that has been held at night since 2014. In the desert, the two Mercedes continue their dominance in qualifying, hitting pole position again and monopolizing the front row, while in the race, although less devastating than in qualifying, they complete a perfect weekend, winning a double with Lewis Hamilton, in third. victory of the season, and Nico Rosberg in second position.
In the Spanish Grand Prix, this time it is Nico Rosberg who wins both in qualifying and in the race, with Lewis Hamilton having to settle for second position. For the German driver, this is the ninth victory in Formula 1, and the first of the season.
This year, the fight for the world title is the affair of only the two Mercedes drivers, and therefore the internal struggle is very close. Lewis Hamilton is determined to return to victory after the disappointment at Montmeló, and in the practice sessions of the Monaco Grand Prix he proves to be the man to beat on the streets of the Principality.
The Englishman took pole position on Saturday, followed by his teammate in second position. The victory seems to be within the reach of the Englishman, but once again the lack of reactivity of the car manufacturer from Stuttgart prevents him from celebrating.
Indeed, on lap 37, Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel attempts an undercut on Nico, who is in second position. At the Mercedes pits it was decided to protect themselves with only Rosberg, who managed to stay ahead of the Heppenheim driver, while with Lewis Hamilton they lengthened the stint too much, making him return to the track in third position.
The subsequent races in Canada and Austria are both characterized by the two silver arrows, which conquer the front row in qualifying, while in the race they adopt an unsustainable pace for the opponents, with Lewis Hamilton winning in Montreal, while Nico Rosberg returns the favor in the Styria region.
The following Grand Prix takes place at Silverstone, at Lewis Hamilton's home, where he leaves little room for his teammate both in qualifying and in the race, not without some fright. In fact, at the start the British driver got off to a bad start and was passed by both Williams of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, which however represent more of a temporary slowdown, rather than a real threat. Lewis Hamilton thus conquers the thirty-eighth victory in the World Championship, and the thirty-seventh for Mercedes, which also obtains the twenty-second double.
The second setback of the season takes place in the Hungarian Grand Prix. Indeed, on the Hungaroring track, the Ferraris are particularly competitive, but Lewis Hamilton still manages to take pole position on Saturday. On Sunday, the procedure is postponed for one lap, as Felipe Massa has not positioned himself correctly on the grid.
This episode perhaps somehow distracts Lewis Hamilton, who misses the start for the second time in a row, being overtaken by Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen. Unnerved by the bad start, the British Mercedes driver tries an unexpected overtaking outside, at turn 3, to the detriment of his teammate Nico Rosberg, just overtaken by Kimi Raikkonen, who, being fighting for the world championship, does not let him road, causing contact between the two.
To have the worst is Lewis Hamilton, who is forced to an early pit stop. On lap forty-three Kimi Raikkonen had to stop due to a power unit problem, while the British driver made a splendid recovery. In fact, he is third when the Safety Car is exposed due to an accident involving Nico Hulkenberg on the starting straight, six laps from the checkered flag.
At the restart, however, in turn 1 he is too aggressive in defending the position from Daniel Ricciardo, and breaks the front wing. Forced to make a further pit stop, Hamilton will have to settle for seventh position. In the following two seasonal events, at Spa and Monza, Lewis Hamilton is unstoppable even for his teammate: the British driver wins both races, and extends in the world rankings.
The third and final setback of the Mercedes, which does not fit the winding city-state street circuit, takes place in the Singapore night-time Grand Prix. Ferrari, on the other hand, took both pole position and final victory, followed by Daniel Ricciardo on Red Bull, while Nico Rosberg finished in fourth position and Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire, due to a loss of power in the power unit.
In Japan, the British driver returns to the front of everyone in the race, winning for the forty-first time in the world championship, and thus equalling the number of victories of the three-time World Champion Ayrton Senna.
The world turning point arrives in Russia: Lewis Hamilton wins for the umpteenth time, while his teammate is forced to retire due to a fault in the throttle of the accelerator. In Texas, Nico Rosberg, who starts from pole position, is the protagonist of a bad start, thus giving way to Lewis Hamilton, who wins and becomes World Champion for the third time.
In addition, the Anglo-German team won its second Constructors' Title in a row with three races to spare, signing a record 706 championship points at the end of the season.
From the subsequent Mexican Grand Prix, returned to the world calendar after twenty-three years of absence, Lewis Hamilton, satisfied by the fresh title victory, leaves the triumph to Nico Rosberg, as well as in the last three seasonal Grands Prix.
A string of victories, that of the German, which will also extend into the first Grand Prix of the 2016 season, the year in which he will lead the Anglo-German army to victory.