F1 Racing - - THE FEATURES -


The first Mercedes F1 car of their new era was de­signed in 2009 on a re­stricted de­vel­op­ment budget while the team were still Brawn GP. Al­though it had a num­ber of in­no­va­tive fea­tures – a low-pro­file ‘split’ air­box ap­peared at the Span­ish GP – it proved dif­fi­cult to adapt to run an equiv­a­lent of McLaren’s ‘f-duct’, the fore­run­ner of DRS. Nico Ros­berg claimed three podi­ums, Michael Schu­macher none.


Af­ter a trou­bled pre-sea­son – the W02 over­heated re­peat­edly at the first test, re­quir­ing a new side­pod de­sign – Mercedes seemed to make lit­tle progress. They fin­ished fourth in the con­struc­tors’ standings but reg­is­tered no podi­ums. Ross Brawn set about bol­ster­ing the tech­ni­cal team, re­cruit­ing Bob Bell from Lo­tus at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son and Aldo Costa and Ge­off Wil­lis later on in the year.


Fea­tur­ing a ‘dou­ble-DRS’ sys­tem to boost straight­line speed, this car failed to live up to ex­pec­ta­tions. Ros­berg won in China and Schu­macher set a time fast enough for pole in Monaco (he was de­moted due to a penalty), but the car over­heated its rear tyres and strug­gled to get the front ones to op­ti­mum tem­per­a­ture. Mercedes fell off the pace as the sea­son pro­gressed and the Stuttgart board grew im­pa­tient.


Toto Wolff joined as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor (busi­ness), Paddy Lowe as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor (tech­ni­cal), and Niki Lauda as non-ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, with a view to re­plac­ing Ross Brawn’s role as team prin­ci­pal. The W04’s strong per­for­mance – two wins for Ros­berg, one for Hamil­ton – showed the new struc­ture was be­gin­ning to gel. Brawn earned the right to de­ter­mine the tim­ing of his own de­par­ture.

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