CAR OF THE YEAR

Mercedes W09

F1 Racing (UK) - - AWARDS 2018 -

The fight for the 2018 world cham­pi­onship was as much about the de­vel­op­ment war be­tween Fer­rari and Mercedes as the per­sonal duel be­tween driv­ers Lewis Hamil­ton and Se­bas­tian Vet­tel on track.

Fer­rari started the sea­son strongly while Mercedes were still get­ting to grips with the W09’s ten­dency to over­work its rear tyres. By mid-sea­son, the Fer­rari SF71H was also lead­ing in straight­line speed; the long-held dom­i­nance of the Mercedes en­gine was now in doubt as Fer­rari un­leashed more horses. By the time of the Bel­gian Grand Prix, it looked as if Mercedes had been left be­hind.

But that was to un­der­es­ti­mate the en­gi­neers at both chas­sis HQ in Brack­ley and the de­vel­op­ers at Brix­worth’s High Per­for­mance Pow­er­trains. The W09 came back as Fer­rari fal­tered af­ter the sum­mer break. New rear wheel rims, de­signed to im­prove air­flow around the tyres and man­age heat trans­fer, were an ex­am­ple of Mercedes’ con­tin­u­ing de­vel­op­ment push. The wheel rims were sig­nif­i­cant enough that Fer­rari held dis­cus­sions with the FIA, and Mercedes chose not to run them in Austin and Mex­ico, mean­ing their race per­for­mance was less em­phatic.

There were small weak­nesses on the ti­tlewin­ning car, as demon­strated by hy­draulic leaks brought on by hit­ting kerbs in Aus­tria and Ger­many. But since Mercedes had been pushed harder than they have been in any of the pre­vi­ous four cam­paigns, such cracks were in­evitable. If the W09 wasn’t the quick­est car at the start of 2018, it cer­tainly was by sea­son’s end.

“Com­pared with pre­vi­ous cars, the W09 didn’t have as much of a mar­gin over the op­po­si­tion. Devel­op­men­t­wise we have been pushed by Fer­rari from start to fin­ish, so it’s been one of our cars that has de­vel­oped most over the course of the sea­son. Over­all it’s been a chal­leng­ing sea­son, so it’s even more sat­is­fy­ing to win the cham­pi­onship and awards like this one.” An­drew Shovlin, track­side en­gi­neer­ing di­rec­tor (far right of pic­ture)

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