The 2013 Mercedes W04

It has been an interesting offseason for Mercedes who have seen massive power shifts in both the front office and in the driver’s seat. In what was easily the biggest off track story of 2012, Lewis Hamilton announced that he would leave McLaren and head to Mercedes, to take spot of a retiring Michael Schumacher. Many are still questioning if Lewis’ decision was the right one.

In his first public appearance since joining the team, Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg were out to unveil Mercedes’ 2013 contender, the W04.


It’s tough to see any difference between the W03 and it’s successor apart from a slight nose job. Like all of the other teams, the W04 is an “evolution” car and will certainly look different come race day.


According to Mercedes, the W04 is the result of “many thousands of hours of work”.



The W04 may have more of a burden than any other car on the starting grid in 2013. Mercedes have made big claims since acquiring Hamilton. Their 2012 season fell flat after the first few races and much of the responsibility will be on the shoulders of Ross Brawn if this car follows a similar path.

Granted no racing has been done, but I still don’t understand the move from Hamilton’s perspective, apart from having more free time due to less sponsorship constraints. There’s also the strange hiring of Niki Lauda as Mercedes’ special informant. Between Brawn, Lauda and Toto Wolff, this team has way too many captains and I think it’s only a matter of time before this ticking time bomb goes off. There have already been rumblings of a Brawn departure from the team. None of this is good news for Hamilton who left McLaren to get away from the “drama”. I expect 2013 to be a very interesting season for Mercedes and we’ll all be following them closely.

Photos courtesy of Mercedes.


Thriller In Shanghai

The Chinese Grand Prix proved to be another thriller, with wheel to wheel racing, right up to the final lap. Formula 1’s stop in Shanghai, wraps up the first Asia leg of the 2012 season, as the teams head to Bahrain this week

2012 is already shaping up to be a fantastic and extremely unpredictable season. I had no idea what to expect, going into today’s race and it really was anybody’s game. Mercedes had a fantastic qualifying session on Saturday, with Nico Rosberg finally getting his first pole. Michael Schumacher qualified a respectable 3rd, but started on the front row in 2nd, after Lewis Hamilton received a 5 grid spot penalty, for a gear box change.

Rosberg got off to a great start and was helped by Schumacher, in keeping the rest of the pack behind, while building the gap. It was teamwork in its purest form and Rosberg’s resulting early lead, was maintained across the finish, where he secured his first career win. It was also the first win for Mercedes, as a constructor since 1955, with Juan Manuel Fangio behind the wheel. I expected to see the Silver Arrows eating through the tires, but Rosberg did a great job maintaining his tire degradation, throughout the race.

Mercedes’s day wasn’t all smiles though. Michael Schumacher had to retire early after the W03’s right, front wheel nut wasn’t screwed down. Mercedes weren’t the only team to suffer from pit stop errors. The boys from McLaren showed up, for a Malaysian Grand Prix encore, and botched Jenson Button’s chances for a win.

Lewis Hamilton started the weekend strong for McLaren and despite his 5 grid spot penalty, seemed in relatively good spirits, qualifying 2nd. His teammate Jenson Button got off to a great start from 6th and moved up 3 spots, entering turn 1. Despite consistently closing the gap on Rosberg, Button’s hopes for a win were decided by yet another, McLaren botched pit stop. A faulty wheel gun stranded Button an extra 6 seconds, ruining his chances for catching Rosberg. He ultimately finished 2nd, with Hamilton 3rd, after some fantastic wheel to wheel racing with Sebastian Vettel.

How is character judged? It’s judged not by how an individual handles victory, but how they handle defeat.

The season is still anybody’s game and I’m not saying for a second, that Sebastian Vettel is out of the running. There are still 17 races between now and November and anything can happen. It is however, painfully obvious, that whether it be the car or the driver, something is not going right for Vettel. After an outburst, following the Malaysian Grand Prix, and news of both Red Bull drivers using different exhaust setups in Shanghai, Vettel is beginning to look desperate. During today’s race, he was not only overtaken by Lewis Hamilton, in the second to last lap, but his teammate Mark Webber.

All the while Vettel has been struggling, Webber has been quietly out of the spotlight, giving solid performances. He’s outdriven his World Champion teammate, in every Grand Prix of the season and has undoubtably given himself, more of a voice within the team. It’s always bothered me how the media, even his own team, have brushed Webber off to the side. Yes, he’s one of the veteran drivers on the grid, but he’s consistent and always keeps his team in the points. Had it not been for some horrific starts last season, we may have seen a more even matchup at Red Bull. He’s also a driver who doesn’t loose his cool and takes advantage of opportunities. In many ways, he reminds me of Jenson Button, maybe that’s why the two are good friends off the track?

Sauber looked good in the first half of the race, then lost their holding and finished 10th and 11th overall. Sergio Perez had some brilliant laps, fending off Lewis Hamilton and a set of tires, well past their expiration. Fernando Alonso finished 9th, after another difficult drive in the F2012, a car that’s quietly plotting to kill its driver. The incredibly twitchy Ferrari, forced Alonso to fight the car, the entire race. It’s a credit to Alonso, as he’s the best man for the job. On the other hand, his teammate Felipe Massa struggled, again. Massa’s pacing isn’t remotely close to the upper half of the pack, much to the dismay of his team. I’ll be surprised if something drastic doesn’t happen at Ferrari this season.

Two of the biggest surprises at Shanghai were Kimi Raikkonen and Williams. Raikkonen did well in qualifying and put the Lotus in 5th, starting 4th. After a brilliant drag race down the pit lane with Lewis Hamilton, Rakkonen fell back and finished a disappointing 14th, after being walloped by a quarter of the grid, in 2 laps. The other big surprise of the day was Williams who went from bringing up the rear in 2011, to a serious mid-field contender in 2012. Both Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldando had excellent drives, finishing 7th and 8th, ahead of Ferrari. Williams and Sauber are definitely mixing things up for the rest of the grid, this season.

Next week will quite possibly be the most controversial race of the season. The teams head to Bahrain, a kingdom which has been under both political and social turmoil, for more than a year. It’s going to be very interested to see how the next week unfolds.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

The 2012 Mercedes W03

With just 4 weeks to go until the Australian Grand Prix, Mercedes revealed their 2012 contender. The W03 made its debut yesterday at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. It sports many of the same changes we’ve been seeing with the rest of the grid, including everyone’s favorite step-nose.

Mercedes Team Principle Ross Brawn says the step-nose is a result of a compromise, which allows the teams to continue using their 2011 chassis.

The improved downward airflow is fed underneath the car and into its side pods.

The lack of exhaust blown diffusers, has produced a less cluttered rear end, with improved airflow.

Brawn’s goal for 2012 are victories for both of his drivers, who were unable to do so last season. I’ve always been curious to see what Michael Schumacher could do for Mercedes in a better car. This could be a definitive season for both the former World Champion and his teammate Nico Rosberg.

Photos courtesy of Daimler & Jamey Price.

The Actual 2012 Mercedes W03

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about blogging and sharing information over the Internet, it’s that you’d better have your facts straight. If you don’t, someone will call you out on it. Last week I did a post on the “new” Mercedes Formula 1 car. I had commented about how there was never an official press release from the team. There was indeed a very good reason for that, which I came to find out yesterday from a couple readers. The 2012 Mercedes W03 hasn’t actually been revealed yet. I’d firstly like to say that I was wrong and I didn’t have my facts straight. I’ve since taken down my previous post on the car, I assumed was the W03. It was in fact last year’s W02 with certain modifications for testing at Jerez.

A Class can be pretty content heavy from time to time. I do my best at making sure I have my story straight before sharing it with the Internet. But I can still be wrong, so I appreciate the heads up. Anyway, the Mercedes W03 is scheduled for an official release, next Tuesday February 21. In the meantime, they’ve released some footage of Nico Rosberg behind the wheel during a shakedown at Silverstone.

This spy shot was also taken of the car during its Silverstone testing.

Right away you’ll notice a prominent step-nose, very different from the car seen at Jerez.

It appears that McLaren are the only ones not to adopt the new styling change for the 2012 season. Instead they’ve decided to keep the whole nose of the car lower, limiting the airflow traveling underneath. This decision could go either way and we won’t truly know until the season begins next month.

I’ll have more on the Mercedes W03 next Tuesday.

Photo and video courtesy of Roy Powell & Mercedes GP.