Mercedes was the last of the so called top teams to reveal its new 2012 car at 21st of February in Barcelona track. The new car, called W03, is completely new reflecting the iron will of the Mercedes team to prevail in modern Formula 1 and honor the “silver Arrow” nickname earned six decades ago . The positive about the launch delay for Mercedes is the extra time earned for designing the new car, which is crucial for optimizing a car shape , but the negative impact is less real testing time on real track before season starts . Mercedes due to delayed launch of the new car had to test on the first 2012 test in Jerez with its W02 chassis .
The stepped nose configuration is also present on W03 but for sure it is more elegant and sophisticated . W03 nose cone instead of being flat at the top it has an arched shape and a more smooth bulkhead height transition . This is to reduce drag by diverting the air flowing above the nose tip towards the nose sides while the main flow is channeled smoothly over the bulkhead , all aiming lower drag production .
The radical “W-duct” called system which was first seen last season is present on W03 as well and probably evolved a step further . In W02 case , air entered through a small oval hole spotted at the tip of the nose cone and traveled inside the structure , across the wing pylons , and finally ending up inside the flaps following a W-pattern . The system is designed to stall the front wing in a straight line at height speed causing drag reduction hence favoring top speed . When cornering air is channeled only to the half of the flap to improve wing’s balance .
It is unclear how the system really works or how the air is really channeled inside the structure , only an x-ray would tell ,but I guess Mercedes would never give permission for such a thing . For sure the system is to help Mercedes but Michael Schumacher last season complaint about sudden balance loss caused by the system . The system is completely passive , controlled neither by the driver nor electronically/mechanically , and thus is considered to be within regulations .
The front wing is a hybrid design between W02 endplates and flaps inspired by Red Bull having
– The airbox zone features two inlets , one traditional to feed the engine with air and another minor behind the main inlet to cool gearbox and KERS .W02 had also double airbox inlets .
– The sidepod tunnels are very slim and compact with periscope exhausts on the rear top . There are removable sections on the body skin that can be easily replaced with more opened covers , for instance holed or gilled one , to improve cooling efficiency . During early Winter testing W03 was hit by overheating due to the narrow sidepods , with dark spots to appear on the body surface behind the exhaust outlets , caused by heat coming from the inside. I assume sidepod terminal holes will improve cooling once and for all . with a small aero handicap of course .
– The front wheel rim has a ring , known as crown rim design , to improve the way hot air is extracted from the brakes . Ferrari was the first to develop crown rims a couple of years ago .
The rear suspension follows the pull rod philosophy ( in yellow ) , like the W02 . The rear wing also derives from W02 and the DRS mechanism is planted entirely inside the endplates with the flap moving mechanism to be spotted where the red arrows point.
It is rumored that W03 has a clever diffuser , which features a hole under the rear crash structure from which hot air from the inside of the car is guided under the rear light to reach the diffuser central section . The design bears resemblance to Brawn’s double deck diffuser raced back in 2009 . Back then the double deck was fed with air coming from slots at floor level but now the air comes from above .
Construction: Moulded carbon fibre and honeycomb composite structure
Suspension: Wishbone and pushrod/pullrod activated torsion springs and rockers
Wheels: BBS forged magnesium
Brakes: Brembo calipers
Brake discs/pads: Carbon/Carbon
Steering: Power assisted rack and pinion
Steering wheel: Carbon fibre construction
Electronics: FIA standard ECU and FIA homologated electronic and electrical system
Gearbox: Seven speed unit with cast aluminium maincase
Gear selectio:n Sequential, semi-automatic, hydraulic activation
Clutch: Carbon plate
Overall length: 4800mm
Overall height: 950mm
Overall width: 1800mm
Type: Mercedes-Benz FO108Z
Capacity: 2.4 litres
Maximum rpm: 18,000 (maximum FIA regulation)
Bank angle : 90°
Piston bore : 98mm (maximum FIA regulation)
No of valves: 32
Weight: 95kg (minimum FIA regulation weight)