Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team: 2017 Preview

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team: 2017 Preview

VAVEL looks at last season's runaway champions, Mercedes, and their radical looking new car.

therealjeagles
James Eagles

Going for their fourth successive double, hopes are high for Mercedes. A dominant 2016 saw 19 wins, 33 podiums and 765 points for the Brackley team, as they clinched the Formula One Constructors' Championship by just shy of 300 points.

Total control. Can it be better? The prestigious German marque are even more confident this year. Good luck to the rest.

Whilst Paddy Lowe and reigning World Champion Nico Rosberg have left the team - Lowe to Williamsthe latter leaves the sport altogether. In comes Finn Valtteri Bottas to partner three times World Champion Lewis Hamilton, and James Allison takes Lowe's role as Technical Director, after a needed break from F1 due to personal reasons.

Rosberg leaves on a high. | Photo: Getty Images/Steve Etherington
Rosberg leaves on a high. | Photo: Getty Images/Steve Etherington

In addition, Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda have extended their contracts until the end of 2020 - a sign that power may be here to stay.

The car

There's no doubt about it, the complexly monikered W08 EQPower+ is the most extreme car of the year thus far. It's an anomaly, as it's the only car as of yet that fails to feature the re-introduced shark fin, although Bottas did run with an intriguing "T-Wing" design this afternoon in a shakedown session at Silverstone.

Both Bottas and morning runner Hamilton have already waxed lyrically about the new car, the Brit citing a distinct increase in grip compared to previous years, even on a damp track and with a heavy wind.

Despite having a fairly bulky feel to it, the W08 looks very clean, and features a number of interesting technical features, including two winglets at the very top of the nose, that harks back to the 2007-2008 era. Very F2008-ish.

Even the little windshield is edgy... | Photo: Twitter/Craig Scarborough
Even the little windshield is edgy... | Photo: Twitter/Craig Scarborough

The sidepods have been given a lift - the radiators pushed forwards and widened. It provides a very different look to the grid and is made even more striking given the narrow packaging at the rear of the car, exaggerated by the amount of floor on show - due to the longer wheelbase. It's almost hard to believe that there is a power unit, gearbox and fuel cell tucked away back there.

Everything is radical, even down to the wing mirrors that have been heavily reshaped and look like something out of the film "Wall-E". The barge boards are rather square and include a number of beneficial slots. Still on the side of the car, the turning vanes are fanned out - again, an anomaly so far. I think we'll only be able to judge how different the W08 really is in full until Red Bull unveil their next beast.

The drivers

44 - Lewis Hamilton

Races - 188
Championships - 3 (2008, 2014, 2015)
Wins - 53
Podiums - 103
Pole Positions - 61
Points - 2,247
Best Finish - 1st x 53
Debut - Australia 2007

With 10 wins, 2016 may not sound like a poor year for Hamilton, and in most regards, it wasn't. But, it wasn't enough to stop his bitter rival Rosberg from taking the World Championship before promptly saying "no returns" by retiring.

Looking for a fourth world title, the Brit told the BBC that he is relishing the challenge that new teammate Bottas will bring, but is also aware that he'll have stiff competition from Red Bull, given the aero biased nature of the new regulations.

The early whispers seem good for the 31-year-old, happy with his first few runs in the W08, and with Mercedes reportedly boasting even more power from their power units than before, the glum, tense Hamilton that was seen at several points during 2016 may vanish from the paddock. 

Hamilton looks for number four. | Photo: Getty Images/Mark Thompson
Hamilton looks for number four. | Photo: Getty Images/Mark Thompson

77 - Valtteri Bottas

Races - 77
Wins - 0
Podiums - 9
Pole Positions - 0
Points - 411
Best Finish - 2nd x 2
Debut - Australia 2013

After four seasons at Williams, there's a much needed change in scenery for Bottas. With the fear of his career turning into a Nick Heidfeld copy, a move to Mercedes may just prove to be a career defining moment for the undoubtedly quick and unflappable 27-year-old.

With just nine podiums to his name thus far in F1, don't be surprised to see that number double over the course of 2017. But even more importantly, Mercedes gives Bottas a chance to claim an elusive maiden win.

Bottas was impressed with the W08. | Photo: Getty Images/Mark Thompson
Bottas was impressed with the W08. | Photo: Getty Images/Mark Thompson

A mediocre 2016 only garnered a sole podium, alongside Hamilton, in Canada - as he finished eighth in the final table with 85 points, his worst performance in the V6 hybrid turbo era. He's approached the new year with a healthy attitude, warning Hamilton that he won't play second fiddle and is prepared to take the Briton on in wheel-to-wheel battles, saying that there may be the possibilities of a few "sparks", but reiterating that he wants to keep everything fair and professional. How long that will last, we don't know.

What can they achieve?

Nothing that they haven't done already, in all honesty. The time for a unbeaten season has gone, with Red Bull expected to be stronger this time round. But, 19 out of 21 races wasn't bad.

However, the German team are confident that they have made an "unprecedented" step further with their 2017 power unit, which will rattle the likes of Ferrari, Honda and Renault - who believe they've made improvements over the winter - who are unable to keep pace.

It looks to be another good year to be in a Silver Arrow.

Did you know?

Mercedes achieved a new record last year, claiming an average of 36.42 points per race over the 21 race season.

VAVEL Logo