There’s a new car at the front of the For­mula 1 pack


If you’ve been caught up in the ac­tion of a new sea­son of For­mula 1 rac­ing for 2018, you might not have no­ticed a new car at the front of the pack.

The Mercedes-AMG GT R is the new Safety Car for 2018.

With 430kW and a top speed of 318kmh, it’s the fastest and most pow­er­ful FIA F1 Safety Car of all time.

And you’re un­likely to miss it too – it will be on duty at all 20 race week­ends this year.

The Safety Car comes out to lead the F1 field around the track when bad weather or ac­ci­dents re­quire it.

‘‘It is an ab­so­lute high­light in terms of driv­ing dy­nam­ics and is one level higher up still than the AMG GT S of re­cent years,’’ says driver Bernd May­lan­der. ‘‘Of course, ide­ally the safety car should be de­ployed as rarely as pos­si­ble – but when we have to safely bunch up the F1 field and lead it around the track, we will be su­perbly equipped with the AMG GT R.’’

Mercedes-AMG says the GT R has more mo­tor­sport tech­nol­ogy at work than any other pro­duc­tion model.

Wide front and rear wings al­low an in­creased track width for op­ti­mum grip and high cor­ner­ing speeds. The front apron with ‘‘Air­panel’’ ac­tive air con­trol sys­tem and the ac­tive aero­dy­nam­ics pro­file in the un­der­body, the large rear aero­foil and the rear apron with dou­ble dif­fuser in­crease the aero­dy­namic ef­fi­ciency.

The wheels are lightweight forged al­loy. The ac­tive rear­wheel steer­ing works with a nineway ad­justable trac­tion con­trol sys­tem and ad­justable coil-over sus­pen­sion with ad­di­tional elec­tronic con­trol.

The re­quire­ments of the FIA (Fed­er­a­tion In­ter­na­tionale de l’Au­to­mo­bile) for the Of­fi­cial FIA F1 Safety Car are de­mand­ing. It must be able to main­tain a min­i­mum speed level to pre­vent the tyres and brakes of F1 ve­hi­cles from ex­ces­sive cool­ing and the en­gines from over­heat­ing.

Only a small num­ber of mod­i­fi­ca­tions have been re­quired to trans­form the pro­duc­tion GT R into the Safety Car. An AMG Track Pack­age with roll-over pro­tec­tion sys­tem and ce­ramic high-per­for­mance com­pound brak­ing sys­tem are on board as op­tional ex­tras. The ad­van­tages of the ce­ramic brakes are a lower weight, a longer ser­vice life and fade re­sis­tance.

In terms of ap­pear­ance, the Safety Car dif­fers from the se­riespro­duc­tion ve­hi­cle by virtue of the FIA and F1 liv­ery and the light bar on the roof. The lat­ter is po­si­tioned on a car­bon-fi­bre air scoop that is de­signed to of­fer the least pos­si­ble air re­sis­tance while at the same time pro­vid­ing for an aero­dy­nam­i­cally op­ti­mised flow of air to­wards the rear aero­foil.

The po­si­tion­ing and de­sign of the scoop and the light bar are the re­sult of wind tun­nel test­ing.

While May­lan­der fo­cuses on the track and keeps an eye on the field in the rear-view mir­ror, co­driver Richard Darker main­tains ra­dio con­tact with race con­trol. Darker mon­i­tors the F1 ve­hi­cles with two iPads. The dis­play of the left one shows the in­ter­na­tional TV broad­cast. The right one can fea­ture ei­ther an an­i­mated dis­play of the cur­rent po­si­tion of the ve­hi­cles or show cur­rent lap times.

Data man­age­ment for the vis­ual com­mu­ni­ca­tion so­lu­tions is han­dled by an in-car hotspot with wire­less net­work.

Along­side the safety car, the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S estate is on hand to pro­vide emer­gency care as the of­fi­cial Med­i­cal Car. It is crewed by up to three medics. At the wheel is rac­ing driver Alan van der Merwe, while his co­driver is FIA F1 deputy med­i­cal del­e­gate Dr Ian Roberts. The rear seats ac­com­mo­date one or two as­sis­tant medics from a se­lected spe­cial­ist hos­pi­tal near the par­tic­u­lar race­track.

The estate is fit­ted with four sports bucket seats in­clud­ing six­point seat belts. Ra­dio equip­ment en­ables com­mu­ni­ca­tion with race con­trol. To en­able mon­i­tor­ing of rac­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, two iPads are also in­stalled in the cock­pit. The lug­gage com­part­ment ac­com­mo­dates a full com­ple­ment of emer­gency equip­ment, in­clud­ing de­fib­ril­la­tor and res­pi­ra­tor.

The Med­i­cal Car fol­lows the F1 field on the start­ing lap, as the rac­ing cars are grouped par­tic­u­larly closely to­gether in this crit­i­cal phase of the race.

Dur­ing the race, the Med­i­cal Car is lined up along­side the Safety Car in pit lane.

With 430kW and a top speed of 318kmh, GT R is the fastest and most pow­er­ful Safety Car . . . ever.

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