In Formula One, major regulation changes usually happen with the aim to limit performance and provide the technical teams with new constraints. The new rules for 2017 opened up a new and exciting challenge. The team had the freedom to explore a more generous set of regulations. They were in combination with the uncertainty of not knowing exactly where targets should be set. Or what will represent a good result.
Last year’s Mercedes W07 was all about refinement and elaborate evolution. The W08 project went back to first principles. The car’s design started before running the definitive 2017 tyres. Even some parts of the regulations were not completely final. But it was important to arrive quickly at a sound base architecture, while following a flexible, adaptable philosophy to allow scope for major developments during the season. With this in mind, only 17% of the components in W08 have been carried over from its predecessor. The team’s main focus was on optimizing the car within the new aerodynamic regulations.
This is also the first major regulation change to occur under the Aerodynamic Testing Regulations (ATR). It limits every team to the same maximum amount of wind tunnel testing – 65 runs per week. Given the extent of the regulation changes, the first W08 concept ran in the team’s 60% Brackley wind tunnel before the first race of last season and has completed over 2,000 runs during its development so far.
Only 17% of the components in Mercedes W08 have been carried over from its predecessor
The front and rear wings are with new shapes. The other biggest areas of aerodynamic opportunity are the floor and the barge board area in front of the sidepods. They were the focus of significant work. The design teams also worked to improve the W08 structurally. It was necessary in order to withstand the substantial increases in aerodynamic and mechanical loads.
The Power Unit, christened M08, is also comprehensively redesigned for the new season. Although the previous token system did not constrain power unit development since 2014, its abolition allows the technical group more freedom for engineering solutions.
There was much focus on the primary energy conversion opportunity – the combustion process. But there are also many opportunities for gains further downstream, including within the engine ancillaries. The new aerodynamic regulations had a significant impact on the configuration of the engine. The PU, as a structural component of the car, must cope with significantly greater physical loads. To maintain its structural properties, the engine is therefore slightly heavier than its predecessor.
In addition to this comes an increased duty cycle. The cars will probably spend approximately 10% more of every lap at full throttle. That change means a 5% increase in race fuel allowance for the new season. M08 has also been designed for increased durability as a driver can use only four PUs per season in 2017.
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) 23 February 2017