Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance, a wonderfully fast car, aided by the DAS



The Mercedes army, the undisputed protagonist of the victory of the last twelve Formula 1 world titles, presents for the 2020 season a car that is in some respects futuristic, which certainly aims to continue the winning streak that began in 2014 with the advent of hybrid turbo engines.


Despite the twelve consecutive titles won, the technicians at the English headquarters in Brackley certainly did not rest on their laurels, concentrating all the work on the weak points of the previous car.


The new single-seater is in fact an evolution of the W10, consequently all the strengths of its sister are maintained, such as the geometry of the front suspension which allows excellent tire management, while the center-car is completely streamlined and redesigned in every detail.


The biggest change in the car lies in the new shape of the side air intakes, clearly inspired by Ferrari. The lateral anti-intrusion upper cone is lowered, and together with its fairing now forms the lower limit of the radiator mouth on the side of the passenger compartment.



The opening for the entry of air into the bellies is decidedly reduced, a solution that amazes and definitely stands out, given that during the past season the silver arrows have suffered on some occasions from overheating problems of the power-unit; furthermore because the resizing of the bellies is not compensated by an enlargement of the vent for hot air in the terminal part of the frame at the rear.


The reduction of the side air intakes, as well as a more accentuated inclination as regards the radiators, allows to obtain particularly flared bellies in the lower part, leaving a large surface of the car floor exposed for the generation of aerodynamic load, accelerating the flows directed to the rear, ultimately improving the extraction from the diffuser.


The fairing of the upper anti-intrusion cone in front of the radiator now extends to intersect the vertical bulkhead of the sidepod, which at the top is connected continuously with the horizontal profile that extends above the air intake. There is therefore no space between the two profiles, vertical and horizontal, present until last season. At Mercedes it was therefore decided to give up a vortex at the expense of a slight lower aerodynamic efficiency at the rear, gaining in terms of travel speed on the straights.



After the laborious work carried out in the central part and in the bellies of the car, the suspension is confirmed at the front with the push-rod on up-right system, with the oblique arm of the strut that is hooked directly to the pillar and not to the triangle. lower, in an offset position with respect to the steering axis of the wheel, a solution that considerably increases the car's dynamic response.


The upper triangle in turn is fixed to the hub holder in a raised position, given the presence of the bracket, with an accentuation of the king-pin angle, that is the vertical inclination of the steering axis of the wheel, which also leads to a squeezing of the tire against the ground when turning.


Furthermore, the length of the high suspension arms is reduced, leading to better camber recovery when cornering, i.e. the recovery of the vertical inclination of the wheel with respect to the ground, widening the footprint of the tire and leading to greater grip, allowing the suspension attachments of the upper triangle to the body to be placed very high on the nose at the front, freeing up an abundant portion of surface for air flows.


If philosophies deriving from Ferrari have been used in the central part of the car, as regards the front wing, the choice is made to remain in the up-wash configuration, thus continuing to direct the air flow upwards to obtain the maximum downforce at the front. However, in the lateral part the profiles change slightly inclination, recalling the effect of the out-wash and partially diverting the flows outside the wheels.


In addition, the T-wing is characterized by a monoplane architecture, with the two vertical supports already seen last season, a solution that is confirmed arm in arm with the solution to the double pylon rear wing with the gooseneck to support the 'rear wing.


The nose once again has a narrow section, this both to favor aerodynamic penetration and top speed, and for the particular cooling needs of the engine, as the front is the first part of the car to generate the flow. of air that invests the remainder of the car, the latter is optimized to allow the radiant masses to collect as much flow as possible.


Remaining at the analysis of the front wing, in the terminal part of the nose the longitudinal manta profiles extend, which channel the air under them, creating an acceleration of the flow and consequently generating aerodynamic load, while near the system slot S-Duct confirms the two small horns introduced during the past season, which have the function of increasing the down-wash effect.


The front rims again feature rectangular openings in the spokes, favoring the management of tire and brake temperatures, and recalling the effect of blown hubs, while the air-scope placed above the halo remains in the 2019 configuration, with an ogival shape with three internal openings.


The car, however, hides inside a revolutionary system, only discovered during the Barcelona tests, called Dual Axis System. This system, thanks to a movement of the steering wheel along the axis of the steering column controlled by the driver, allows you to change the convergence of the front tires in favor of better tire management throughout the entire race.


Specifically, two round elements protrude inside the frame which act as attachments for two hydraulic actuators capable of mechanically activating the movement of the steering column, and consequently also of the steering box.


Some say that Mercedes can use a floating system with two or three attachments to the frame on which to move the entire steering system for the four or five millimeters that were observed in the images of the camera car during the test day. But in reality, the steering box is still cantilevered to the front of the bodyshell, and is hidden within a flashy carbon fiber fairing, while the steering arms on the W11 are very protruding from the lower triangle arm. of the suspension, which has been raised to the center of the wheel: this solution allows for the creation of a blow molding thanks to which it is possible to obtain aerodynamic advantages.


As previously described, the DAS is operated by the pilots through a button that is pressed both to activate and deactivate the system, changing the convergence of the front wheels: the driver, in fact, does not have to apply any effort to make the steering wheel float, but the implementation takes place using the hydraulic system of the power steering, without any electronic control, given the prohibition envisaged by the technical regulations of the Federation.



In a season battered by the future of a world pandemic, the International Automobile Federation initially takes note of the cancellation, on February 12, 2020, of the Chinese Grand Prix scheduled for April 19th, postponed to a later date.


On March 13, 2020, a few hours before the first free practice session of the season, the FIA ​​decides to cancel the Australian Grand Prix, following the decision by the McLaren team not to take part in the Grand Prix.


On the same day, the Bahrain and Vietnam Grand Prix are officially postponed to a later date, with the latter having to make its debut during the season in the world championship, and subsequently, on March 19, 2020, the Grand Prix are postponed. Netherlands and Spain, while that of Monaco is canceled.


The Azerbaijani Grand Prix is ​​postponed on March 23, 2020, scheduled for June 7th and April 7th the Canadian Grand Prix, while a few weeks later, on April 27th, the French Grand Prix is ​​also canceled, followed on May 28th from that of Holland, initially postponed.


On June 2, 2020 the Federation announces the calendar of the first eight races of the season up to the Italian Grand Prix, scheduled for September 6th. Two races are scheduled on the Red Bull Ring, the second with the name of the Grand Prix of Styria, and at Silverstone, with the additional race called the 70th Anniversary, in honor of the seventy years since the first edition of the Formula 1 World Championship. In addition, the dates of the British and Hungarian Grand Prix are reversed, while the Spanish Grand Prix, initially postponed, is moved to August 16th.


On June 12, 2020, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, previously postponed, is canceled, together with that of Singapore and Japan, with the land of the Rising Sun always present since 1986.


On July 10, 2020 the entry into the calendar for the first time in the world championship of the Tuscan Grand Prix is ​​announced, while the Russian Grand Prix is ​​confirmed on its original date.


On July 24, 2020, the entry into the calendar for the first time in the world championship of the Eifel Grand Prix, the twenty-four-year return of the Grand Prix of Portugal and the debut of the Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna are announced. The previously postponed Canadian Grand Prix, along with the United States Grand Prix, Mexico City Grand Prix debut and Brazilian Grand Prix, are canceled.


The final calendar is confirmed on August 25, 2020, which includes seventeen appointments. Nine years later, the Turkish Grand Prix returns, and two races are scheduled on the Manama circuit, in addition to the confirmation of the Bahrain Grand Prix, previously postponed, the second race takes the name of the Sakhir Grand Prix, using the layout that surrounds the traditional route.


The season ends with the confirmation of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, also previously postponed, while the Chinese and Vietnam Grand Prix, initially only postponed, are definitively canceled.


A strange season of successes


The season begins in June, with the double stage on the Spielberg circuit in Austria: after a long wait, the traffic lights on the starting grid finally go out.


The race is dominated by Valtteri Bottas, who brings the first win of the season to the Brackley team, while Lewis Hamilton is only fourth. The race is lively right from the start, with the premature abandonment of the race for Max Verstappen, footed by technical problems with his power unit, with teammate Albon also forced to retire after a contact in the final stages with the driver British Mercedes.



In the second stage on the Austrian circuit, on the occasion of which the Grand Prix dedicated to the Styria region is celebrated, Mercedes is increasingly the protagonist by placing a double that is never questioned, with Lewis Hamilton taking the top step of the podium this time followed by his Finnish teammate and Max Verstappen in third position.


In Hungary, the British driver seems to have found the right shape and after an extraordinary show of strength he wins his second race of the season, this time followed by the Dutch Red Bull driver, author of a race that is also phenomenal, while Valtteri Bottas completes the podium.


In the British Grand Prix, however, Max Verstappen is very competitive, and manages to put pressure on the Anglo-German army. In fact, the W11s at Silverstone suffer from rather accentuated tire wear, and a few laps from the end of the race Valtteri Bottas accuses a puncture, being forced to an additional pit stop that relegates him to eleventh final place, while Lewis Hamilton is the protagonist of the same accident occurred to his teammate on the last lap, crossing the finish line with three wheels, followed by Max Verstappen who, having stopped a few laps before to replace the tires, having in fact the gap necessary for a free stop (i.e. in the in the event that no positions are lost after the stop), he fails to win the race.



But the first victory was not long in coming for the Dutch driver: in fact, again on the Silverstone circuit, on the occasion of the Grand Prix dedicated to the seventy years of Formula 1, Verstappen won a splendid victory right in front of the two cars of the Stuttgart car manufacturer.


In the following two Grands Prix in Spain and Belgium, Mercedes confirms its supremacy over its rivals with Lewis Hamilton author of two consecutive victories, while the Finnish teammate who wins a third and a second place, alternating on the podium with Max Verstappen, until now the only driver able to fight with the drivers of the Anglo-German team.



In the Italian Grand Prix, raced in Monza, after a very eventful race, thanks to an excellent strategy and an exceptional race reading, Pierre Gasly, aboard the AlphaTauri, surprisingly conquered a well-deserved first victory in his career, and second victory for the team from Faenza, also obtained in Monza. Behind the French driver is a solid Carlos Sainz with McLaren, followed by Lance Stroll on Racing Point, while the two Mercedes do not go beyond a colourless fifth position for Valtteri Bottas and seventh position for Lewis Hamilton.


In the second Italian appointment, on the Mugello circuit, in a race full of contacts and safety car, the two Mercedes are back as protagonists, with the British driver winning the first position again, followed by Valtteri Bottas and Alexander Albon in second and third final position.



In Russia, Valtteri Bottas returns to victory, followed by Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, who returns to the podium after having suffered two consecutive retirements in the last two races.


In the following five seasonal Grands Prix in Germany, Portugal, Emilia Romagna, Turkey and Barhain, the British Mercedes driver won five consecutive victories, marking the seventh world title in Istanbul, equalling Michael Schumacher at the end of an extraordinary race.


Valtteri Bottas, on the other hand, conquers two second places in Germany and Portugal, while in Turkey he comes out of the points and ends only in eighth position in Barhain.



In the second round in the desert Lewis Hamilton, who turned out to be positive at Covid-19, is replaced by the British driver George Russell. Throughout the race, the English driver gives a hard time to Valtteri Bottas, who after the first pit stop is forced to surrender to the greater competitiveness of his teammate.


Despite the superiority of the two silver arrows over the competition, once again at Mercedes under pressure they are wrong, and due to a clumsy double pit stop in which the tires of the two drivers are exchanged during the safety car regime, George Russell is forced to a further pit stop to fit the right set of tires, finding himself in the middle of the group, while his teammate precedes him by some positions, also delayed by a very long pit stop.


Despite an extraordinary comeback up to the top positions, the English driver was forced to make another pit stop due to a slow puncture in a tire, giving up. The victory is conquered by Sergio Perez, who thus completes the comeback started during the first lap, when due to a contact with Charles Leclerc in the initial stages of the race he was forced to recover from the last place.



In the last Grand Prix of the season, in Yas Marina, Lewis Hamilton gets back in possession of his Mercedes W11, winning a third-place finish, preceded by Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen who takes his second win of the season.


Mercedes then continues the winning streak started in 2014, and the W11 conquers a total of thirteen wins, twelve podiums, fifteen pole positions and eight fastest laps, for a total of 572 world championship points that allow not only Lewis Hamilton to win his seventh constructors 'title, but also to conquer the sixth constructors' world title at the Brackley team, which leads Red Bull, first pursuer, by 253 world championship points.


Andrea Rasponi

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