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New cars from Mercedes, Red Bull, Williams and Toro Rosso
New cars from Mercedes, Red Bull, Williams and Toro Rosso
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Feb 2011   |  3:41 pm GMT  |  36 comments

Today four more teams revealed their new cars for the 2011 season and formal testing began in Valencia. It is a three day test, the first of four such tests before the start of the season on March 13 in Bahrain.

All of the tests are important to evaluate the car, get it reliable by ironing out any glitches and start to push the development path. Another major part of the workload will be understanding how to get the Pirelli tyres working and mastering the new technology on the cars like the KERS and the adjustable rear wing.

But the really crucial test – and probably the most telling – will be the final one in Bahrain as it will be at this test that we will see the major new bodywork packages, front wings and so on. This is when the teams will really show their hand for the first time and we will see what specification they are likely to start the season with.

Most teams have allowed themselves that extra development time and with the first race also taking place at Bahrain, it’s the ideal place to bring the final pre-season update.

Photo:Red Bull

Red Bull
The world champions unveiled the RB7 today, the car which aims to repeat their championship double of 2010. With a car advantage at the end of last season, a stable and talented technical group under Adrian Newey and a stable engine supply, there is no reason for this team not to start the season as favourites. The DNA of last year’s world beater is clearly there in this car, it is not a clean sheet of paper design, but a development of a winning bloodline.

One area of possible concern to Red Bull is the return of KERS. Red Bull didn’t use KERS in 2009 as the system available to them was never sufficiently effective to counteract the additional weight and re-engineering.

This year with the minimum weight limit raised to help teams accommodate KERS, it is a must for all the established teams and here Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari have more experience.

Newey said of the KERS today, “We are here to try hard to try and develop it through the pre-season so that we are confident that it does give us performance. I think one of the things that came clearly in 2009 was that the start-line performance of KERS was important. This year I think no doubt with McLaren and Ferrari and Mercedes having KERS and being extremely competitive, then we need to get it to work if for no other reason than simply performance off the line.”

And of course, in common with all the teams, there will be a gain for the engineering team which is able to get the Pirelli tyres working the quickest. This will not just be about getting the qualifying performance out of them but also getting them to last in long runs in race conditions.

Photo: Mercedes


Michael Schumacher can never have wanted a new car to be good more than he does with the MGP W02. Last year’s comeback was marred by a car which didn’t allow him to express himself and to make sense of the comeback he needs this car to work. He seemed upbeat in his assessment of its potential today, “We have said it several times already but again, we are really building up something big together. I am very confident that this season we will be standing on the podium much more regularly;
ideally in the middle!”

Nico Rosberg also wants more from this car and isn’t afraid to say it, “Our targets are aggressive, ” he said. “We want to be competing at the front and challenging for race wins.”

Team principal Ross Brawn also sounded more like he did in the old Ferrari days, “The concept development for the MGP W02 started early and we have set challenging targets for the design, combined with a robust plan to ensure that the pace of development can continue throughout the long 2011 season. We want to be setting the standard right from the start but if we are not, we will respond very strongly to get ourselves into the game, ” he said.

The new car from Williams was revealed in an interim colour scheme, a full 2011 livery will follow, but this is a car Rubens Barrichello has had a great deal of input into, to try to overcome Williams’ recent characteristic of starting the season in a relatively uncompetitive condition and having to catch up through development.

Part of that, Rubens believed, was down to good old drivability and this is an area he has invested a lot of time in. At the same time he and the team feel that the car design is “aggressive” very much this season’s buzz word at the moment. It follows a developing trend of cars with a high nose, interesting airbox and engine cover shape and sculpted sidepods.

Williams continues with the Cosworth engine and is running KERS for the first time, although not the innovative flywheel KERS system they were working on in 2009 and which has now been evolved more for commercial purposes.

Williams has aspirations to fight at the front with the top five cars, rather than continue last year’s battle with Force India for a place in the top ten qualifiers.

Toro Rosso
The Italian squad had the first laugh in 2008 when it won a race before its sister team, Red Bull, had managed the feat. But last year, as the level of technology transfer fell away and Toro Rosso engineers were forced to design and develop their own car the RBR left them for dead. To be fair to the team, there was a lot to take on last year with a wind tunnel to be incorporated and a whole new way of working.

This year, by their own admission, they have to be more progressive and competitive. The car is once again powered by the Ferrari engine and has the Ferrari KERS system.

Toro Rosso is the team most vulnerable to being overtaken by last year’s new teams, Lotus and Virgin in particular and keeping them at arms’ length has to be the first objective, although getting one car into the top ten shootout in qualifying would be the ultimate ambition. The team describes the 2011 car as “radically different” from its predecessor and less conservative.

“The main objective is to resist the increase in performance that these teams will have,” said engineer Laurent Mekies. “So we are hoping to raise our level in such a way that we keep clear of them. And the next target is to fight with the teams were fighting at the end of last season, sometimes Sauber, sometimes Williams, sometimes Force India.”

Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari start the season as the drivers but there is a very real sense that they are vulnerable and need to perform and that if not, perhaps one of them could be replaced by Daniel Ricciardo during the season.

Toro Rosso has shown several times in the past that it is not afraid to switch drivers during the season; it is after all an incubator of driving talent first and foremost.

“I have big expectations to be honest, ” said Buemi, “As I have quite a lot of experience now: I know all the circuits, I know how Formula One works and we also have quite a lot of experience in terms of building up the car. So, if all goes well and hopefully it will, we should be able to score many points and finish in the top eight of the Constructors’ championship.”

Keep up with all the latest on what the teams, drivers and journos are saying about the Valencia test on Click HERE to view

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Along with the buzzwords of innovative and aggressive, it would appear that several teams have opted for the pull-rod suspension as opposed to push-rod this year. Williams in particular, in conjunction with their tiny gearbox have sculpted the back of the car to almost nothing to achieve maximum airflow.

For those of us who are not so tech oriented. Is there any possibility you could do a technical feature with illustrations on the differences between the suspension types and the advantages (or otherwise) of each type? I’m sure I’m not the only one that doesn’t understand it fully and would appreciate your wisdom. Thanks!


Yes I think this would be an excellent idea along with a cross section of the Renault/Lotus side pod exhaust.


James, I used to love your re-tweet page as there really is nothing better out there.

On older IE browsers, it now has a black background with dark grey text and is rather hard to read. It is not always possible to upgrade browsers, given company licenses, etc.

Something perhaps for your consideration..

Many thanks for providing all that!


What version browser are you using?


I know I’m nitpicking here, but it’s a personal irritation every time I read it!

It’s either “KERS” or “KER system”.

“KERS system” means “Kinetic Energy Recovery System system”.

As you were.

(Written on my Personal PC Computer).


People shouldn’t worry about being politically pc.


Williams was the first of the teams I read to use the word Aggressive this year regarding their car. I was just looking at some testing photos and had to double check what I saw on the Williams website! Did Dick Dastardly come up with the wheel nut design? It looks a little pointy and painted red as a warning! Watch out Shumi, Rubens is ready for any your tricks!


I’m sick of this “innovative” & “aggressive” jargon already. Is there a competion amongst teams and journos as to who can use these “buzzwords” the most in describing this years cars???!!!!


Any further news on the Renault exhaust. I am hearing they had bad problems with it today with cooling. Just wondered if that was true or not?


The Red Bull was always going to be evolution rather than revolution – if it works so well why change after all. What has surprised me is that to my eyes most of the new cars seem to be styled more after last year’s Ferrari than the Red Bull. Hopefully they’ll have a couple of tricks up their sleeves – as they say, its the details that count.

Mercedes looks a more complete design than the car they had last year, always seemed a transitional car. Good to see they’ve managed to integrate the Petronas green better than they eyesore they ran last season. Hopefully Nico can really charge this year, I think he deserves a car that gives him the proper opportunity to prove himself.

I think a lot of people hope to see a resurgence in fortune for Williams. I think the input of Barrichello will be a massive boost to them, especially with another rookie to deal with rather than a young promising driver with development experience such as Hulkenberg. Hopefully Rubens can pick up some good results for his and the teams morale. Be great to see him outdo Schumacher on an overtake again.

Oh almost forgot Toro Rosso. But then, it’s easy to isn’t it.

Thomas in Australia

Disappointed to see that Toro Rosso went with another boring livery. Was hoping to see them in the lighter blue/silver colours.

As for Williams, their “interim” livery always looks so much nicer that the finished product.


hi great stuff! is there any sight of flexi wings?


Hi James,

This may well be a daft question, but I’m going to ask nonetheless.

As Toro Rosso are using the relatively successful Ferrari KERS system, is there no way Red Bull can get their hands on it to use as a basis for their own, or are the two teams exactly that, two very different teams that just share the same sponsor/invester?


I understand the so-called Ferrari curse is actually a Magneti-Mareli product also used by 1 or 2 other teams as well.



Red Bull were developing the Magneti-Marelli base system too, as was Renault. I believe the Ferrari system was developed further. All the cooling aspects would be up to the teams to sort out too.


@Matt Williams took a major share in Automotive Hybrid Power which is now known as Williams Hybrid Power, they did this early last years with the aim of developing their system for road cars, I believe Porsche use it in Porsche 911 GT3


ps There 2011 system is still made by Williams, it’s just battery instead of fly wheel, which they are still developing for road


Thanks for that.


It’s interesting that Williams have not opted for the type of KERS system they developed in 2009.

I find this a bit disapointing as they way I understand that system it didn’t require battiers which would I imagine make it much better / cheaper / quicker to get into mass production both for road cars and industrial application.

(Due to the batteries, I feel the production cost of mass producing battery based KERS systems may offset the energy savings – e.g. if it takes 100 units of energy to make the battery which saves 10 units per year it’s a wasted exercise.)

Does anyone know why they’ve dropped the concept for F1 cars and who’s making their current system?


In terms of systems, the electric motor side of KERS is basically a dumbed down Prius system. The batteries are much more advanced. Toyota has run a more advanced system than KERS in sports cars.

Williams’ flywheel system is being raced by Porsche, and the car nearly won on debut due to greater economy.

The problem with the flywheel is size. With refueling this was manageable, but with the larger tanks space is at a premium. The Flywheel is mounted horizontally so that the angular momentum resists roll and pitch, not yaw (turning). Therefore with one flywheel, it would be placed in front of the electric motor which in turn is in front of the engine in all the 2009 set ups. This is where the centre section of the fuel tank would be, so that stretches the tank out wider. The weight distribution rules probably rule out making the car longer, but there are other disadvantages to this as well.

With the wider fuel tanks, the lower section of the sidepods has to be wider too. This is undersirable as this area is apparently key to getting the diffuser to work properly.

So you blame the end of refuelling – a measure seen a wastefully using unlimited fuel – for the death of the flywheel KERS.

I hope that helps,



So the refuelling ban which in my view did very little to save fuel, money or better the racing (weather conditions did this) has also ruled out one of the best bits of tech to come out of F1 for a long time.

The system is obvioulsy not wasted but it’s such a shame it’s not in F1 as I’m sure it would be a retro fit in some applications as opposed to rebuilding a fleet which would cost more than the energy saved.


Packaging issues with the flywheel. It’s easier to locate the batteries and that version.

That’s not to say they may not come back to it, and remember such packaging issues don’t exist on family cars to the same extent.


As far as I understand it the reason they changed to batteries is simply down to packaging. Although the flywheel offers benefits in terms of simplicity,safety in the garage and possibly weight, it is not very flexible with regards packaging being a single rather bulky unit. The battery system is made up of several, smaller components which can be split and moved around to make optimum use of space and weight distribution. Notice that with these regulations a lot of the press releases talking about the new cars have had the undertone of the difficulties teams have had with the packaging requirements this year.


James,great articles these last days about the new cars.

I have one question for you:are the teams going to test the new rear wing device for overtakes during these pre season tests?

If the answer is yes when and more important how are they planning to do it?


So every team wants to be in the top ten, apart from last years newbies. Every one has high hopes. Something has to give.


Is there no live timing available during the tests?

And what happened to Ferrari at the end of the session and Renault? Petrov completed only 28 laps – I’m no expert, but I think it’s not too much and I don’t think it’s a number of laps you are willing to complete on the very first day of tests. Maybe the revolutionary exhaust isn’t that revolutionary after all…?

I’m not happy to see some of the teams (Mercedes, apparently Renault and Ferrari) facing technical problems from the very beginning, though it’s better to face and resolve them now than during the season.

This was just the first day so I hope that Red Bull at the front is not an ominous sign predicting the whole season – I want it to be exciting and to achieve this we can’t have one team over the rest ;-).

On a lighter note: R31 seemed nicer in the studio pictures than on the track. It’s still a pretty nice car though.

I know it’s nothing yet, but it’s so good to have the cars back on the track. And I must openly admit I wasn’t a particularly good worker today and will not be tomorrow either ;-).


You can follow the times at the Williams site or at the, it´s not lap by lap but ´t helps to follow the action.


Ferrari ran 400 Km without a problem (they stopped at the end because of a fuel test), so they’re not that bad.


Thanks – I thought that hundred laps is a pretty decent distance and thought it might be some kind of a fuel load test.

Let’s see what happens tomorrow. I hope it won’t bring any major troubles either :).


That little fin thing on the Red Bull engine cover looks like it’s there just so they could fit the tail of the bull on the livery!


Anyone seen the little fin on the back of the Redbull engine cover and rear wing? Looks like they aren’t quite ready to ditch the sharkfin concept just yet.


I think mclarens missing track time here late development will cost golden time.


James The williams rear end is at least radical.

Whats your thoughts on that?


I followed the entire test and it seems the RBR (for the moment) seems to be the fastest yet again. Fully reliable so far too, which is a shocker.

The Force India of last year is keeping up but it is an illegal car for 2011 season.

Ferrari seems to be doing OK too, although they had failures at the beginning.

Mercedes was in the pits for almost entire session because of hydraulic problems, so yeah…

Renault, everyone raving about the exhaust system…well, almost the entire session went into repairing it (according to journalists there and Renault was trying to hide this fact)…so not a great ‘innovation’ afterall.


Yup. If that RedBull I as fast as it appears so far and as reliable as it needs to be, KERS, Wings an the Almighty won’t help us. It will be wrapped up in July. The prophecy of the fan who wrote about the “peripherals” will be manifested.


God, it’s looking that way isn’t it? I just hope that the other teams can get their acts together, pushing development as much as they can and actually catch up somewhat. Maybe then we can have another nail-biter of a year. I’ve been itching for the 2011 season to get underway, as I’m sure we all have, so I reeeaally dont want to be disappointed now…

Anyway, let’s be optimistic shall we?

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