I’m not sure what works harder? Mercedes’ engineers, or air going over the W08.

As I mentioned in Wednesday’s article, this launch season has been absolutely fascinating. So many different concepts have already been showcased, with the likes of Force India unveiling machinery which is visibly more complex than that of their rivals.

Mercedes, however, have significantly raised the bar. The W08 was launched on Thursday and is by far the most complicated design unveiled so far.

It looks like a winner, but then, we really shouldn’t be surprised.

mercedes-w08

Sure, this winter has been dominated by talk of Bernie Ecclestone’s departure from his role as circus master. When we haven’t been talking about the outbound supremo, we have instead been eyeing up which teams are best placed to unseat Mercedes from their pedestal as F1’s benchmark squad.

Red Bull have been widely tipped to enter 2017 as front-runners, to the extent that many, including myself, lost sight of what an incredible team of engineers were toiling away behind closed doors at Brackley.

The launch of the W08 has brought Mercedes’ strengths back into sharp focus. It’s not just been the engine behind the Silver Arrows success story and the 2017 regulations have given the aero department the ability to flex their creative muscles.

Three upright pillars a highly complex bargeboard arrangement and delicate winglets leading off of the bulkhead make up a list of just the headline developments within the ‘box’ behind the front tyre in which the FIA have granted technical freedom. Simply a snapshot of the wider technical detail on show.

Keeping the air attached to the bodywork via this labyrinth of aerodynamic pieces feeds it towards the rear end via remarkably tight packaging of the engine. It looks like a design from a different category entirely. Aesthetically, it’s sublime and even from the perspective of a non-engineer, it ticks the boxes of a fast racecar.

Astonishing to think that this is simply the launch spec. Mercedes are visibly ahead of the competition already.

It is, however, important to note that we are yet to see their main rivals launch their 2017 challengers. I’ll be impressed if Ferrari have matched many of Mercedes’ headline concepts, when they reveal their winter project on Friday, given that the team’s main flaw in recent years has been aerodynamic ingenuity. Red Bull’s RB13 – set to be unveiled on Sunday – will be a true litmus test. It would be fascinating to have been a fly on the wall at Milton Keynes today. Were Newey,

Red Bull’s RB13 – set to be unveiled on Sunday – will be a true litmus test. The car that many have penciled in as the car to bring World Championship titles back to the Red Bull factory.

It would be fascinating to have been a fly on the wall at Milton Keynes today. Were Newey, Fallows and Marshall scratching their heads, wondering why they have missed some of Mercedes’ solutions? Or, were they safe in the knowledge that the beauty and intricacy of the W08 is about to be overshadowed by the RB13 come Sunday?

Mercedes have unquestionably raised the bar. The question is, can anyone clear it?

 

 

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