One of the design elements I was curious about was the Mercedes long wheelbase and thankfully, Autosport were keen to inquire as well.
“The long wheelbase is something we decided very early on was an asset to us, and I’m pretty sure we’re still right on that,” said technical director James Allison.
“It’s much, much easier having a decision like that under your belt, because then you’re not running two windtunnel programmes with two wheelbases, two models, two different things.
“You can be pretty certain the gains you got last year will be inherited by the car this year. If you’re pretty sure the wheelbase is an asset, then carrying it over is an absolute no-brainer.
“The rake of the car is just a thing you work on all the time.
“We try to make the mechanical grip part of our suspension work nicely with the aerodynamic package that the aero guys work on, and where we have the broad peak of our best rear downforce performance is a little lower in ride height than some other cars. But we’re not so bad!
“The peak rear downforce moves up a little bit for this year’s car, but we certainly won’t be in the sort of rake territory that we saw the Red Bulls and co in last year.”
I had read several speculations as to why the team took a while last year to come to grips with their car and some suggested the longer wheelbase as a possible cause. If that were truly the case, then I was curious if they would continue with the long wheelbase.
The same article suggests that Ferrari may have moved slightly toward a longer wheelbase as well for 2018.
“If you’re a car that’s sitting a long way down the grid, then you have less to lose by changing direction. You know the path you’re on is not right.”
There seems to be an element of preserving the team’s performance and not taking too big of a gamble but then the team’s engine boss, Andy Cowell, says that the W09 will have a “pretty much all new” engine and that’s a big enough roll of the dice I would imagine.
With a clamp down on oil burning and a stiffer competitor in Ferrari, Mercedes were going to have to evolve their dominant engine and the team have haven’t sat still since introducing the hybrid power unit in 2014.