In 2017 a further regulatory change takes place in Formula 1, which envisages a significant increase in downforce as a general guideline: this initiative, combined with powerful hybrid engines, gives life to one of the fastest generations of single-seaters in the history of the World Championship. of Formula 1.
The Stuttgart car manufacturer, fresh winner of six world titles over the past three years, presents the Mercedes AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+. This long name for a Formula 1 car is given by the union of the chassis name, W08, while the initials EQ Power+ have been inserted for commercial purposes, to give a green face to the three-pointed star brand.
The W08 EQ Power+ proved to be the most competitive and reliable car for the fourth year in a row, but lost much of the technical advantage characteristic of previous seasons.
A long car to exploit efficiency
Compared to the Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid, the W08 has a longer wheelbase, a decision that is also the result of the new regulation which provides for an increase in length of twenty centimeters, and which allows the car to be very effective on tracks with fast corners.
In order to improve the aerodynamic values of the car, Mercedes modifies the front suspension, connecting the upper wishbone directly to an extender, before joining it to a strut. The height increase of the upper wishbone serves to prevent disturbance of the air flow, which starts from the front of the car and goes to the sides and to the rear suspension, which can affect the stability of the whole car.
The Brackley team also adopts a T-wing device on the rear of the car. The design of the rear wing, which recalls the shape of a bowl, is a characteristic feature of all the cars of the Stuttgart car manufacturer, aimed at creating greater traction and reducing drag on the straight.
As in 2016, the car's updates are constant and significant. The first evolutionary package is brought to the Spanish Grand Prix: this upgrade was introduced by the team's engineers to solve the problems of excessive tire wear, a circumstance that occurred in the first Grand Prix due to the weight, which was about five kilograms higher. in the W08, compared to other cars.
To solve this problem, the technicians introduce an even narrower and tapered nose, which allows the insertion of two turning vanes. The bargeboards are also modified, which serve to better direct and make the air flows work well so that they generate downforce. The bottom is also revised, as well as the rear wing, which has been modified in its shape.
Mercedes brings an additional package to the Malaysian Grand Prix, where the front wing design is changed with the main-plane leading edge pushed up to channel airflow under the wing, and driven by snags, now pronounced, residing below.
The mantle under the nose that Mercedes introduces in Spain and overhauls in Austria is again modified, with the front edge of the device enlarged. The highly complex area of the bulletin boards, which includes as many as twenty different surfaces working together, has also been modified, while the vertical cascades mounted on the edge of the serrated floor logs are modified by reducing their height, while being angled more aggressively.
As for the mechanics, the first Power Unit of the Anglo-German team was used in the race in four Grands Prix, while the second unit was mounted at Montmeló, which, having the relative updates, is more performing, reliable, and lighter. The third specification was debuted in the home Grand Prix at Silverstone. This update, unlike the previous one, resulted in a marked improvement in performance, reaching optimal levels of reliability.
The fourth heat engine was brought to Belgium only two races later. This, according to rumors of the paddock, to bypass the federation controls on the Power Units, which starting from the Italian Grand Prix should have consumed a maximum quantity of 0.9 liters of oil, in spite of the 1.2 liters allowed up to Belgian appointment.
A hard-fought season
The 2017 season sees the technical gap between the three top teams Ferrari, Mercedes, and Red Bull narrowing, therefore proving to be a more competitive championship, especially in the first half of the season. Mercedes, this year, will have Valtteri Bottas in its ranks, who takes the place of the 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg, who retired at the end of the season.
At the start of the first round of the season in Australia, Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes firmly maintains the lead, ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Räikkönen, while Daniel Ricciardo enters the track two laps late due to a technical problem with his car.
The first three seem to be keeping a much faster pace than the rest of the group; the positions, at least in the upper part of the ranking, remain frozen for several laps. On the seventeenth lap Hamilton changes the tires, switching to the soft, but after a very fast first lap, Hamilton is penalized by being in front of Verstappen, who slows down his pace.
Sebastian Vettel took advantage of this by changing the tires on lap 23, and returned to the track ahead of Verstappen and Hamilton, who are still in battle. In the following laps the two Finns Bottas and Räikkönen stop in the pits. The positions remain unchanged until the checkered flag, with Sebastian Vettel winning the first race of the season in front of the Mercedes duo.
Ferrari appears to be in excellent shape, but Lewis Hamilton immediately takes the lead at the Chinese Grand Prix. The superiority of the Mercedes on the Chinese track grants the British driver a quiet triumph, which also corresponds to the championship victory number forty-four, like his race number.
In Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton is parked at the start by Sebastian Vettel, who on the tenth lap anticipates the stop, still mounting supersoft tires and returning to the track in the rear, while Verstappen, who makes the stop on the following lap, is forced to retire shortly after being exited from the pits for a brake problem.
The next lap, Carlos Sainz crashes Lance Stroll out of the pits, causing both of them to retire and the safety car to enter the scene. Drivers who have not yet made the stop take the opportunity to change their tires: Hamilton slows down in the pit lane, to wait for his team to complete Bottas' tire change, however hindering Daniel Ricciardo, therefore the Briton receives a five-second penalty from serve in the pits at the following stop, or that will be added to the final race time if he does not stop further.
When the race resumes, Vettel leads the race, ahead of Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Kimi Räikkönen and Nico Hülkenberg. At the restart Hamilton immediately passes Ricciardo, struggling to get his tires up to temperature, so much so that Massa and Räikkönen also pass him. On lap twenty-six, Hamilton passes Bottas, taking him to second place, and taking off in pursuit of the German in Ferrari number five.
Bottas makes the second stop on lap thirty, followed after three laps by Vettel: the German, who has supersoft tires, stops to use the soft tires, leaving Hamilton to lead the race, followed by Räikkönen. On lap 40, Lewis Hamilton made his stop, with Vettel returning to the lead again until the end of the race, followed by the British driver and Valtteri Bottas.
Mercedes seems to be in trouble, but in the next two Grands Prix in Russia and Spain, it conquers a fundamental double to re-establish the hierarchy against rival teams, with Bottas winning his first Grand Prix at the Sochi circuit, while Hamilton triumphs at Catalunya.
On the difficult track of the Principality of Monaco, the two Ferraris dominate both in qualifying and in the race, while the Mercedes, on a circuit that does not adapt well to the characteristics of the W08, can only be satisfied with a seventh position for Lewis Hamilton, who started thirteenth, due to a yellow flag which occurred in the second qualifying heat, he has never been in contention for the podium, while Valterri Bottas only finishes fourth.
Mercedes returns to impose itself in Canada again, an occasion in which it wins a wonderful double. The next Azerbaijan Grand Prix is held in Baku. The race is very eventful in the initial stages, and does not preclude itself in twists even towards the end.
At the start Lewis Hamilton takes the lead followed by Sebastian Vettel, who takes advantage of the accident between Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Räikkönen.
On the seventeenth lap the race resumes, but is interrupted again due to the need to clean the track of the many debris, present due to the various contacts that occurred at the start. In the meantime, under the safety car, Vettel, who is second, first collides with Hamilton, then joins his Mercedes and hits him with the right front tire, claiming that Hamilton had put him to the test with a brake testing.
Subsequently, Hamilton suffers from the detachment of the head protection badly fixed to his car, seeing himself is forced to hold it steady by removing a hand from the steering wheel.
On the thirty-second lap the Briton stops in the pits to make the equipment safe, to avoid the black flag, then Vettel takes the lead, but is penalized with a ten-second stop-and-go for the maneuver carried out on Hamilton under the safety car regime.
After serving his punishment, the German returns to the track seventh, ahead of Hamilton. Right on the finish line Bottas grabbed the second position to Stroll, who nevertheless won his first podium in Formula 1.
In Austria, Mercedes wins with Valterri Bottas, while Hamilton reaches the finish line in fourth position. At the next British Grand Prix, raced at Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton returns to the top step of the podium, while Ferrari runs into the first setback of the season, which however becomes the protagonist, a few weeks later, with a splendid double on the tortuous Hungaroring track.
From the next Belgian stage arriving two consecutive victories for Lewis Hamilton, who extends in the world championship standings. Ferrari is aiming for a double at the Marina Bay circuit in Singapore, a track on which Mercedes is struggling, surpassed even by Red Bull in competitiveness.
It is a great opportunity to try a recovery from a global perspective, but at the start, in precarious conditions, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, and Max Verstappen are the protagonists of a big accident, which forces all three to retire, and thus leaving the doors open to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, who win without too much resistance. In Malaysia, Max Verstappen prevailed, with Lewis Hamilton second.
By now the title has eluded for Ferrari, and Lewis Hamilton sinks the blow to Suzuka and Austin, taking the last two victories of the season, while, after Sebastian Vettel's victory in Brazil, Valtteri Bottas closes the season with the twelfth victory for the team of Brackley, and his third career.
The W08 thus totals twelve wins, nine obtained by Hamilton and three by Bottas, as well as four braces, fifteen poles, of which eleven scored by Hamilton and four by Bottas, and nine fastest laps, respectively seven for the English and two for the Finnish. Mercedes takes its fourth consecutive title in the United States Grand Prix, while Hamilton wins the Drivers' title in the Mexican Grand Prix.