Mercedes have been the dominant force on track during the past two years and this week, they have managed to take a stranglehold on the pre-season discussion with an excellent launch of their 2016 challenger, the W07. An on-board video recorded and published on a filming day, followed by an inventive “hyperrealistic” drawing published online and concluding with images of the car posted online this morning marks a long W07 launch campaign.
It has been quite the build up to the unveiling of a car which Mercedes hope can guide them to a third successive constructors crown.
This launch season in general has had a fascinating dynamic to it. Much like the phenomenon of front-loading in US Presidential primaries – where states look to beat each other to being the first to vote – teams have seemingly looked to steal the headlines away from their rivals.
Mercedes’ filming day on Friday received a large amount of media coverage, with Sky Sports on site at Silverstone to catch a glimpse of the new car in action, as well as interviewing 2015 runner-up Nico Rosberg. Meanwhile, Williams also released images of their new car. All of this, on Ferrari’s big day, as they launched their 2016 challenger the SF16-H.
At a time when fans have been critical of teams avoiding the showcase launch events which were a staple of the past, the way in which Mercedes have turned their car unveiling into a week-long event has been unique.
We first caught a glimpse of the cockpit when the team posted an on-board lap recorded during their filming day on Friday. This was followed on their YouTube channel by a hyperrealistic 3D drawing of the W07, which highlighted many of the details which have been confirmed by the more typical pre-season images of the car posted online this morning.
In terms of the car itself, Mercedes have lived up to the expectation that 2016 will be a story of evolution over revolution up and down the field. Similarly to McLaren’s new challenger, the W07 looks much like its predecessor from the exterior shots at least.
“After a highly successful season all round in 2015, our priority has been to identify the areas in which we were weakest and to try to improve on those,” the team’s Technical Director Paddy Lowe stated in a Q and A featured on Mercedes’ website.
“It’s difficult to have a complete revolution when the rules have stayed pretty much the same year on year. But we aim to make minor revolutions wherever we can – even within a small context. We may look at a completely new packaging solution or suspension concept, for instance.
“So, while the car may look very similar to its predecessor from the outside – as is inherent within stable regulations – underneath there are quite a lot of mini revolutions that make up an overall evolution for the new season.”
While Mercedes’ changes have been more subtle, Ferrari have made more apparent alterations including a total change in suspension philosophy. When your winning, it becomes harder to find areas of weakness and this is what Mercedes have had to do this winter. How well they have managed this admittedly favourable predicament will soon be realised.