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THIS is the car Mercedes hope will win Lewis Hamilton a record eighth Formula One world title.
The W12 has been designed as an evolution of last year’s model, which won Hamilton 11 of the 16 races he entered in 2021, taking 10 poles and 14 podiums.
Take a look at the new car the F1 legend will be racing in this seasonCredit: Getty
Lewis Hamilton is hoping to record an eighth Formula One world title win in the new W12 carCredit: Daimler AG
However, this year, there have been attempts from the sport’s rulemakers to slow him down and strip him of downforce.
Here, James Allison, the Technical Director of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, takes us through the changes.
What are the biggest challenges for the upcoming season?
“Without a doubt, the biggest difference is the introduction of the cost cap. This new rule requires us to manage our resources very judiciously through the year.
“We won’t be able to fly through the season introducing update after update any more, but instead will have to bring a more limited number through the year, making sure that we spend our cost cap dollar as wisely as possible on our upgrades.
“We also have some significant modifications to the aerodynamic regulations for this year, plus new tyres and changes to how much we’re permitted to use the wind tunnel.
“All these things stack up to be quite a big change, very far from the carryover year that it was expected to be.”
What can you tell us about the new car? What has been the main focus of development for W12?
“By far and away the biggest area of technical development has been adapting to the new aerodynamic rules.
“2021 brings a profound set of changes that affect the performance of the floor. If you’re looking to slow a car down, which is effectively what the regulation changes were intended to do, modifying the floor is by far the easiest and cheapest way of achieving your objective.
“The floor is such an important aerodynamic component that small geometrical changes bring large reductions in performance.
“Once the rules had been established, our task was to figure out how to recover the losses brought by the changes.
“The rest of the aerodynamic work has been the normal fare of seeking out aerodynamic opportunity across every square centimetre of the car with particular attention to finding places where we can invest extra weight into fancier aerodynamic geometry.”
There are four major aerodynamic changes. What’s the first key aero change?
“I’ll explain the triangular cut-out on the edge of the floor first. This is located just in front of the rear wheels, reducing the area and shape of the floor.
“It may not look like a big change, but the way the floor and the rear wheels interact is critically important to the performance of the car. So, removing this part of the floor has a big impact on downforce.”
James Allison explains everything about the new car to SunSportCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Where is the second aero change located and what’s different on the W12?
“It’s related to the rear brake ducts, which for several seasons have featured a proliferation of winglets that are mounted on the brake ducts and point inwards towards the centreline of the car.
“These winglets generate a little bit of downforce in their own right, but their far more important role is to guide the interaction between the rear tyres and the floor, helping the floor to produce far more downforce than the winglets could ever manage on their own.
“The span of these winglets has been reduced by a few centimetres so they don’t overlap as much with the floor as they used to, thereby reducing the performance of the car.”
What’s the third area of aerodynamic change?
“The third change is at the back of the car around the diffuser area.
“When we are designing the diffuser, we are trying to expand the air as much as we can while keeping the air attached to the surface of the diffuser. More expansion means lower pressures under your car, which means more suction pulling the car to the road, which means more downforce.
“For 2021, the inboard set of strakes, the ones nearest the centre line of the car, have been reduced by 50mm sawn off so that they don’t sit as close to the ground as before.
“By making the fences shorter, they are less effective at controlling the rate of expansion of the air. All things being equal, this makes it harder to be greedy with the diffuser expansion, and so it reduces the downforce on the car.”
The W12 has been designed as an evolution of last year’s modelCredit: Daimler AG
And what’s the fourth and final aero change?
“This is related to the edges of the floor, near the bargeboards and the radiator air intakes.
“In recent seasons all the cars have sported an array of slots on the floor in this section of the car, almost looking like a venetian blind.
“For 2021 the rule has changed, requiring us to seal those slots up. This reduces our ability to create downforce.”
The tyres are changing for 2021, can you tell us about them and their impact on the cars?
“Pirelli’s 2019 tyre development programme was aimed at improving the durability of the tyres.
“The teams tested some proposals in 2019, but eventually rejected what was offered. As a consequence, we went into 2020 with effectively a two-year-old tyre against a backdrop of ever-increasing performance in the cars.
“Not surprisingly, last year saw the tyre at the limit of its capabilities. Pirelli has responded to this by producing a new racing tyre for 2021.
“The new tyre is a lot more durable than the 2020 tyre. It is a little slower, owing to the trade-off for more durability, but it is consistent and should give us trouble-free racing.”
Lewis Hamilton is F1’s biggest earner
Monocoque: Moulded carbon fibre and honeycomb composite structure
Bodywork: Carbon fibre composite including engine cover, sidepods, floor, nose, front wing and rear wing
Cockpit: Removable driver’s seat made of anatomically formed carbon composite, OMP six-point driver safety harness, HANS system
Safety Structures: Cockpit survival cell incorporating impact-resistant construction and penetration panels, front impact structure, prescribed side impact structures, integrated rear impact structure, front and rear roll structures, titanium driver protection structure (halo)
Front Suspension: Carbon fibre wishbone and pushrod-activated torsion springs and rockers
Rear Suspension: Carbon fibre wishbone and pullrod-activated inboard springs & dampers
Wheels: OZ forged magnesium
Brake System: Carbone Industries Carbon / Carbon discs and pads with rear brake-by-wire
Brake Calipers: Brembo
Steering: Power-assisted rack and pinion
Steering Wheel: Carbon fibre construction
Electronics: FIA standard ECU and FIA homologated electronic and electrical system
Instrumentation: McLaren Electronic Systems (MES)
Fuel System: ATL Kevlar-reinforced rubber bladder
Lubricants & Fluids: PETRONAS Tutela
Gearbox: Eight speed forward, one reverse unit with carbon fibre maincase
Gear Selection: Sequential, semi-automatic, hydraulic activation
Clutch: Carbon plate
Overall Length: Over 5000mm
Overall Width: 2000mm
Overall Height: 950mm
Overall Weight: 752kg
Power Unit Specification
Type: Mercedes-AMG F1 M11 EQ Performance
Power Unit Components:
Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)
Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K)
Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H)
Energy Store (ES)
Control Electronics (CE)
Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)
Capacity: 1.6 litres
Bank Angle: 90
No of Valves: 24
Max rpm ICE: 15,000 rpm
Max Fuel Flow Rate: 100 kg/hour (above 10,500 rpm)
Fuel Injection: High-pressure direct injection (max 500 bar, one injector/cylinder)
Pressure Charging: Single-stage compressor and exhaust turbine on a common shaft
Max rpm Exhaust Turbine: 125,000 rpm
Energy Recovery System (ERS)
Energy Store: Lithium-Ion battery solution of minimum 20 kg regulation weight
Max energy storage/lap: 4 MJ
Max rpm MGU-K: 50,000 rpm
Max power MGU-K: 120 kW (161 hp)
Max energy recovery/lap MGU-K: 2 MJ
Max energy deployment/lap MGU-K: 4 MJ (33.3seconds per lap at full power)
Max rpm MGU-H: 125,000 rpm
Max power MGU-H: Unlimited
Max energy recovery/lap MGU-H: Unlimited
Max energy deployment/lap MGU-H: Unlimited
Fuel & Lubricants
Fuel: PETRONAS Primax
Lubricants PETRONAS Syntium
Top speed: 360km/h – 223mph
Acceleration: 0-100km/h in approximately 2.6seconds