Mercedes have dominated the world of Formula 1 since the introduction of V6 turbo engines to the sport in 2014, and there’s no sign yet of them relinquishing their crown. Unveiled at Silverstone in February, the new W09 EQ Power+ looks ready to carry the team to their fifth winning year in a row. Race drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have both been enthusiastic about the new car’s capabilities, and initial test drives in Barcelona earlier this year showed promise.
The focus for the new season is taming the ‘diva’ of the W08 into a more manageable machine whilst still maintaining the aspects that won Mercedes the last four constructors’ and drivers’ titles. The team has decided to retain last year’s long wheelbase for the 2018 season, concentrating on developing the W08’s design rather than giving it a complete overhaul. One of the most noticeable differences in the W09 is how tightly-packaged the rear of the car is now, a feature easily noticeable when comparing the smaller bulge around the power unit to that of the W08.
Mercedes have also gone for a higher rake on 2018’s car, in another bid to tame some of the W08’s unpredictability. Team chief Toto Wolff has said that they’re aiming to preserve the speed of the car whilst introducing more drivability in order to secure success. As Lewis Hamilton himself has pointed out, the new model does look incredibly streamlined, a detail that will hopefully improve Mercedes’ performance when following other vehicles on the track.
With principal driver Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes are the clear favourite to win the 2018 season, and Hamilton himself has a real chance to claim his fifth world championship title. This would be his fourth such title whilst driving for Mercedes. With his contract for the team running out at the end of 2018 and the speculation around whether it’ll be renewed or not, this could be the final chance to see the dream team in action. Perhaps the greatest driver of his generation, it’s been suggested that Hamilton could decide to move over to Ferrari to conclude his extraordinary career. For this year, however, he remains dedicated to the Mercedes-AMG crew.
Mercedes teammate Bottas will be looking to step his career path up a gear in 2018 and claim dominance over some of the strongest drivers on the grid. Since his move to the Mercedes-AMG team last year, he’s gained his first ever Formula One pole position and his first Grand Prix race win. It looks like he could be warming up for his strongest performance yet.
It remains to be seen whether this year’s season will again favour Mercedes, but if the W09’s recent performance is anything to go by, then they are certainly in with a good chance. Because there have been very few regulation changes to contend with whilst developing this year’s car, no time has been wasted in trying to reinvent the wheel. Mercedes have simply taken what they know to work with from last year’s wild card and created a sleeker, more polished vehicle to (hopefully) take them right through to that winners’ podium once again.