For the 2018 season, the Stuttgart carmaker presents the brand-new AMG F1 W09 EQ Power +, which is, to the less attentive eyes, an evolution of the previous W08. In fact, this car presents a package full of interesting updates and solutions, both from an aerodynamic and mechanical point of view.
Indeed, in addition to the development of the AMG F1 W09 EQ Power + chassis, the Brackley stable completely re-designs its power unit, to ensure continuous development up to the next generation of engines, scheduled to debut in 2021.
An evolution full of novelties
The new car of the Anglo-German team perfects concepts already used by its ancestor, the W08, with some substantial changes. Starting from the nose, the very narrow front wing remains similar to the previous single-seater, favoring the flow of air externally to the support pillars, channeling the flow conveyors before reaching the body of the car.
The front suspension scheme has remained of the push rod type, with a third hydraulic element, and in addition to this, the Mercedes engineers maintain the distance between the lower and upper triangles, and the pivot connection between the upper triangle and the hub carrier, which it allows much less influence on the flow that reaches the radiator outlets.
The S-Duct system has also been confirmed, with an inlet air intake in a very advanced position: the usefulness of this system is to expel turbulent air in the form of laminar flow.
Moving on to the central body of the car, it can be seen that the radiator vents are slightly less wide than the W08, but positioned higher, and have detached anti-intrusion cones. The new safety device, the Halo, great novelty of the 2018 season, is not equipped with special fairings, while the airscope, or the air tunnel above the driver's head, remains unchanged from last season. The sides are narrow and sleek, which points out that the Mercedes Power Unit is both powerful and space-saving.
The Anglo-German team changes the aerodynamic concept in the initial part of the bellies, moving the latter a few centimeters further back, to improve the interaction between the central part of the car and the flows arriving from the front.
In this way, aerodynamic efficiency is improved, and therefore resistance to advancement, to increase top speeds and reduce fuel consumption. The air flow to the radiators is increased, as is the extraction of the hot flows from the tail: in fact, this is the main reason why the Mercedes keeps very tapered bellies.
A further novelty is represented by a new rear-view mirror, equipped with a support with aerodynamic functions. But the revolution is not limited only to the central part of the Mercedes: the team also pays close attention to the rear of the car, introducing a new side bulkhead on the rear wing.
Big updates throughout the season
Mercedes brings an important update regarding various areas of the car to the Belgian Grand Prix, to seek the decisive thrust, in the championship, on Ferrari.
The changes involve the front wing, with the splitting of the blown vertical flap placed on the sides of the upper flaps, in order to better shield the front wheels from the flows that increase on fast tracks, and a new design of the rims, which presents on the inside ribs, thus allowing a better disposal of carbon dust and the heat generated by the tires, avoiding their overheating.
The first endothermic unit is used for the first seven Grands Prix, while Mercedes has brought the second Power Unit to France. After the Austrian Grand Prix following a double retirement and a possible Bottas engine failure, Mercedes replaces the Finn's engine for the British Grand Prix. For the Belgian Grand Prix, Mercedes carries the specific number 3 of the Power Unit, guaranteeing an additional power of 15 horsepower combined with a new fuel from Petronas.
2018 season, progression to victory
The 2018 season is staged along the lines of the previous one, with Mercedes and Ferrari fighting for the title, while Red Bull, third force in the world championship, is relegated to the role of outsider, ready to grab some stage victories, as in Munich, Austria, and Mexico.
The first round of the season sees Lewis Hamilton's W09 dominating qualifying, with Valterri Bottas involved in an accident. In the race, however, thanks to a virtual safety car, Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari take the opportunity to take the lead and be the first to cross the finish line, sensationally mocking the British driver.
The same thing happens in Bahrain, but this time it is the Finnish Valterri Bottas who has to settle for second place after Ferrari, again with Sebastian Vettel, is the author of a splendid strategy, surrounded by excellent tire management. part of the German driver.
The third round takes place in Shanghai, China. The two Ferraris dominate the front row in qualifying, but in the race a Safety Car ruins the plans of both the Maranello team and Mercedes, with Daniel Ricciardo taking advantage of it to secure his only win of the season.
The season continues in Azerbajian, an event known for its thrilling editions, and in fact expectations are not disappointed: in the race, Sebastian Vettel, poleman on Saturday, leads followed by the two Mercedes of Valterri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.
Halfway through the race, however, after a bloody duel full of contacts, the two Red Bull drivers are self-eliminated from the race, after Daniel Ricciardo violently collides with Max Verstappen at the braking corner of turn one. This incident involves the release of the Safety Car, allowing Sebastian Vettel and Valterri Bottas to take advantage of the moment to make their stop.
At the restart, Sebastian Vettel tries a violent braking, launching an attack against the Finn from Mercedes, but going long and giving the position to Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez, who followed him.
The next lap, however, Valterri Bottas is the victim of a puncture caused by a debris hit on the straight, and so Lewis Hamilton inherits the first position, going on to win the first race of the season.
The following Grand Prix in Spain is dominated by the two Mercedes, who get their hands on the first double win of the season. In Monaco, on a track historically unfavorable to the Stuttgart car manufacturer, Lewis Hamilton is the protagonist of a gray race, which culminated in third position, the same one from which he started. The same difficult situation also occurs in Canada, with the silver arrows unable to fight for victory.
Mercdes returns to win with Lewis Hamilton at Paul Ricard, France, after having also signed the pole position the previous day. The next Austrian Grand Prix, the Brackley team brings an aggressive evolutionary package to the car. To try to bridge the performance gap with Ferrari, which had proved to be the most competitive car in the first part of the season.
The new updates, however, turn out to be too extreme, becoming the cause of some serious overheating problems, which cause the two W09s to double withdraw. Mercedes takes a step back, and at Silverstone is again dominated by Ferrari which, with Sebastian Vettel winning, and Kimi Raikkonen in third position, put local idol Lewis Hamilton in the middle.
The subsequent German Grand Prix is nothing short of daring, in fact the race starts on a dry track, but towards the middle it rains. The race is characterized by the comeback of Lewis Hamilton, who started fourteenth, and Daniel Ricciardo, who started nineteenth. Already on lap eight Hamilton is seventh, while Ricciardo is in fifteenth position.
On the eleventh lap, Hamilton also passes Hülkenberg, and on the fourteenth lap Magnussen. In the same lap, Kimi Räikkönen is the first of the leading drivers to stop for a tire change, and returns to the fourth race, right in front of Hamilton.
Vettel awaits the twenty-fifth lap to mount new soft tires, returning to the track in fourth place, preceded by his teammate. On lap 28 it's up to Bottas, also on soft tires. The ranking sees Kimi Räikkönen in the lead, ahead of Vettel, and the two Mercedes of Hamilton and Bottas. The classification remains unchanged until the thirty-ninth lap, when Kimi Räikkönen gives way to team mate Vettel, who returns to the lead.
But on the track the threat of rain becomes more consistent: Lewis Hamilton, on the forty-second lap, opts for new ultra-soft tires, which allow him a good competitiveness even in light rain, thus giving the fourth position to Verstappen. The Briton, however, is at ease in the rain, so much so that after a few laps he recovers the lost position, after the Dutchman had stopped in the pits to also mount intermediate tires.
However, the rain is not very intense, and Verstappen, as well as the other riders who had opted for wet tires in the rear, are forced to return to the pits to refit slick tires. On the fifty-first lap, a sensational twist occurs: Sebastian Vettel goes off the track at the Sachs curve. The race direction sends the safety car to the track: Bottas goes to the pits to mount ultrasoft tires; Hamilton, on the other hand, after taking the lane leading to the pits, thinks about it, and returns to the track, an action prohibited by regulation.
The following lap also Kimi Räikkönen changes tires, and in the lead, under the safety car regime, is Hamilton, followed by Bottas, Räikkönen, Verstappen, Hülkenberg and the two Force Indias. Among these, only Hülkenberg is fitted with wet tires. Always with the safety car regime, all the drivers who have wet tires return to the pits to return to dry tires.
At the restart of the race, Bottas tries the attack on Hamilton without success, and subsequently, the Briton raises his pace of the race, scoring several fastest laps. Mercedes then asks Bottas to maintain positions. Lewis Hamilton takes his sixty-sixth victory in the Formula 1 World Championship, and returns to the top of the drivers' standings.
After the victory at Hockenheim, Lewis Hamilton changes pace, thanks also to the updates applied to the W09, making the second part of the season a real ride towards yet another Anglo-German triumph, leaving Ferrari, hitherto the main protagonist of the world championship, just the crumbs, like the victory at Spa gained with Sebastian Vettel, and the one in Austin with Kimi Raikkonen. Lewis Hamilton strings together victories after victories, achieving success in Hungary and Italy, where Mercedes can celebrate another double.
The Briton also won the following three races in Singapore, Russia, and Japan, bending the little resistance encountered, and replicating these successes also in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, the last round of the season, after that in Mexico and Texas he obtained respectively a fourth and a third-place finish.
The Mercedes W09, during the 2018 season, was the car with the most development during the year, obtaining eleven victories in twenty-one Grand Prix, all with Hamilton, thirteen pole positions, of which eleven by Hamilton, and two with Bottas and ten fastest laps, of which with Bottas, and three with Hamilton, as well as eight front rows and four double wins.
With this success, the Brackley team became the second team in history to win both the Drivers 'and Constructors' titles for five consecutive years, repeating a result that had previously only achieved Ferrari, between 2000 and 2004.