MERCEDES F1 W06 HYBRID
Major regulation changes almost inevitably shake up the competitive order in Formula 1, but you can usually expect a design team led by Adrian Newey to deliver a front-running car in short order. Not this time around.
A lack of results in the seasons following the buy-out of Brawn GP made the Mercedes board twitchy. Even as team principal Ross Brawn set in place the systems that would yield future success, he found himself being elbowed out. After co-existing uneasily for a season with the men being groomed to succeed him, Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe, Brawn left in 2013.
The era of teams being led by a single person was coming to an end. Mercedes declared the role of team principal obsolete: Wolff would take care of business, Lowe would direct the technical and sporting side. Lowe’s arrival galvanised an engineering line-up packed with heavyweight former technical directors, including Aldo Costa (ex-ferrari), Geoff Willis (ex-williams and Red Bull) and Bob Bell (ex-renault).
No wonder Brawn had struggled to manage the board’s expectations. But the Mercedes project was about to come good. A tight focus on the new-for-2014 regulations was set to deliver an unbeatable package. One of the key figures involved in shaping the next-generation of cars was Andy Cowell, head of Mercedes-benz High Performance Powertrains, who delivered the new hybrid 1.6-litre V6 turbo power unit.
Cowell’s team had not only invested more time and money than their rivals, they could call on resource from Mercedes’ road car division. And, by playing a role in the design of the car, they could ensure that all decisions and compromises were made with the aim of maximising the overall performance of the complete package.
This is why, at the time of writing, no other Mercedes-powered car has won a grand prix. Mercedes indubitably have the best engine, but they continue to have the best car as well. The W05 Hybrid won all but three races in 2014 and the W06 Hybrid was similarly dominant, netting the championship double.
“With the hybrid era still in its infancy, there is plenty of scope for innovation,” said Lowe at the W06 launch. “The challenge is to find the key areas for performance gain based not just on what we have learned a year down the line, but also on where there is room to explore new and innovative sources of competitive advantage.” Chassis Suspension Engine
Engine capacity Power output Gearbox
Weight Wheelbase Tyres Drivers
Designers Carbon-fibre composite and aluminium monocoque Double wishbones, pushrod actuated springs and dampers (front) and pullrod actuated springs and dampers (rear) Mercedes PU106B V6 Hybrid 1,600cc 750-800bhp Mercedes 8-speed semi-automatic 702kg N/A Pirelli Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg Aldo Costa, Geoff Willis, Paddy Lowe