This year’s Mercedes W05 was one of those cars which comes around once a generation and utterly dominates F1, like the 1988 McLaren MP4/4 and the 1992 Williams FW14B. So what made it so good?
Here we get to the bottom of it, illustrated by a stunning animation by Giorgio Piola and analysis by JA on F1 technical adviser Dominic Harlow, former chief operations engineer at Force India (Twitter: @Dom_Harlow)
The success of the car was clearly based around the new hybrid turbo power unit and some of the decisions that were taken around that, but the car also had the right aerodynamics for the new regulations, which had significantly reduced rear end downforce. Here we look at how Mercedes evolved those aerodynamics to make the car even faster as the season went on.
The car broke a number of records for a single season: 16 wins, 11 one-two finishes, 18 pole positions, 701 points (out of a possible maximum of 860) 12 front row lock outs, 978 laps in the lead.
Indeed so successful has the car been that there are moves behind the scenes to try to adjust the regulations to ensure that they do not dominate for too long and to give the other teams a chance to close the gap. The amount of effort going into those moves, at F1 Strategy Group level at present, tells you how significant the performance gap is and how fearful the powers that be – and other teams – are about a lengthy period of dominance.
The signs are that there has been some movement regarding the timing of the homologation of power units, which allows engine makers to work on some of the areas of permitted development for longer. For the manufacturers who are behind this is a small victory, as it means that they will be able to continue to develop their engines into the season, if they have not used up all their 32 permitted opportunities by the end of February, rather than have them frozen at that point, as the old rules had it. However Ferrari and Renault moves to open up to allow 37 areas of development were not successful.