MERCEDES have revealed the 2018 car they hope will maintain their stranglehold on Formula 1’s world titles for a fifth consecutive season.
The W09 was unveiled by world champion Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at Silverstone.
“What they have done with the rear of the car is massively impressive, that is as tight as I have ever seen,” said Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz as he assessed the new Silver Arrows.
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Having been unbeatable in world title terms since F1’s V6 engines were introduced in 2014, Mercedes are aiming to become the second team after Ferrari (2000-2004) to win five drivers’ and constructors’ titles in a row.
2017 champion Hamilton is aiming for the fifth world title of his career, and fourth at Mercedes, while team-mate Bottas is eyeing a more consistent challenge to the grid’s biggest hitters after three wins last year in his debut year at Brackley.
Both Hamilton and Bottas’s contracts run out at the end of the year, but the Englishman is expected to agree an early multi-year renewal.
Mercedes faced the first sustained challenge to their F1 supremacy last season after a big step forward by Ferrari, while Red Bull enjoyed a race-winning end to the season.
Thursday was the first time Hamilton himself had seen the W09 in one piece and described the car he hopes will carry him to a fifth world title as “a work of art”.
“This is the most exciting part of the year to this point — to see the whole car come together,” he said. “I’ve seen the development of the car for the last eight months and so to see all the pieces come together, it’s a work of art.
“This is my sixth season with the team and it’s kind of crazy to think it’s been that long, seeing the development of the each each year.
“I am always in awe of the team. There are so many people, so many moving parts, and to see them come together and bring their genius all piled into this beautifully sculptured car, it’s amazing. And there are only two of us that get to drive it. It’s such a unique priviledge to have.
“I was staring at it in the garage and was like ‘how did they do that?’”
Mercedes faced the first sustained challenge to their F1 supremacy last season after a big step forward by Ferrari, while Red Bull enjoyed a race-winning end to the season. Team boss Toto Wolff believes F1 2018 is poised to deliver at least a three-team battle for wins.
“We mustn’t discount anybody,” said Wolff in December. “Today, as it stands, it looks like Ferrari and Red Bull.
“I am curious to see where McLaren and Renault come out. I wouldn’t write anybody off. The rules will stay the same so it could be a very competitive season.”
Mercedes still won over half of last year’s races, 12 of 20, and boast an astonishing 80 per cent win rate in the current engine era.
MERCEDES: FOUR FAST FACTS
* Mercedes have won 80 per cent of races since the current engines were introduced in 2014
* Lewis Hamilton is on a run of 25 consecutive races in the points, two short of Kimi Raikkonen’s record
* Valtteri Bottas’ victory in the 2017-ending Abu Dhabi GP was the 49th by a Finnish driver in F1
* Mercedes are 12 poles away from reaching 100 as an F1 constructor