Mercedes has unveiled its new W07 Hybrid for the 2016 as it looks to defend its F1 world championship crowns with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
The W07 keeps the familiar Petronas silver livery with more flicks of teal on the belly of the cockpit as well as on the front wing, wing-mirrors and wheel rims. Mercedes is keen for the new car to emulate its two previous models which have completely dominated Formula 1 since the technical regulations revamp in 2014 with the introduction of V6 Hybrid power units, with the German manufacturer winning 32 out of 38 Grand Prixs in that time.
For 2016, Mercedes executive technical director Paddy Lowe says his team has naturally aimed to improve its weaknesses, highlighting the Singapore Grand Prix as a big frustration when both Hamilton and Rosberg were comprehensively beaten by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, but also says they've looked to make gains with all aspects of the W07.
“After a highly successful season all round in 2015, our priority has been to identify the areas in which we were weakest and to try to improve on those,” Lowe said. “Our objective is excellence in all areas and, while we had some fantastic results last year, there are many areas in which we can still be much better.
“We had a number of races that didn't go to plan in 2015 - Singapore in particular - so there were a lot of things that needed improving for 2016. We are seeking optimisation absolutely everywhere.”
Lowe has explained the W07 has undergone 'mini revolutions' underneath the bodywork with a new engine packaging format as well as a different suspension concept. The new extra exhaust pipe from the turbo has arrived, which is expected to make engines louder to adhere to fans and organiser demands, and Mercedes has also improved driver safety in the cockpit.
“The biggest structural change is on the chassis side, where we've raised the protection area around the driver by 20mm and increased the side impact test load from 15 to 50kN,” he explained. This is a substantial increase in the load that has to be taken by the chassis as that point and will give much greater protection to the driver.”
Despite the gains Mercedes has discovered, Lowe says the reduction in F1 testing has hampered its progress significantly but feels it has been able to solve with rigorous design simulations before applying the concepts on track.
“The amount of testing permitted each season has been reduced progressively in recent years, we've now reached a new minimum in terms of winter testing, with two banks of four days,” Lowe said. “That's something the team has been preparing for by producing better designs and undertaking better preparation and testing in the R&D lab so that we're as well placed as possible to hit the ground running.
“What's different for 2016 is actually not so much that there are only two tests - but that they're both very close to the first race of the season. This has notably reduced the extent to which we can upgrade the car from 'launch spec' to the first race spec. That window is now very narrow, which reduces the number of potential upgrades ahead of the opening Grand Prix weekend.”