The 2015 Formula One World Championship gets underway in Melbourne with the first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix, held at the Albert Park circuit
Testing gives you a basic idea of whether the car feels good or not but, beyond that, it’s anyone’s game to win. The team have been working incredibly hard through the winter and it was great to see everyone in the factory before I left for Melbourne. I’m so thankful for everything they do and I want to show that in the best way I can out on track. We had a great season last year as a team and, of course, we’d all love to repeat that. But the others won’t stop chasing us.
I’m sure the competition will be close and we should get exciting racing with plenty of battling for position – which is great because that’s what I love doing and that’s what the fans love watching. There are many good drivers out there and all of them want to win. You just have to want it more than they do. I feel fresh, I feel fit, I feel relaxed, I feel positive… I feel ready. I think as a driver you get stronger with every season, so I plan to be better than last year.
This will be my sixth year with the team and we’re getting stronger with every season. It’s great to have a group of people working alongside you who are as passionate and driven as you are. It’s up to us drivers to repay them for all their efforts and I’m determined to do them proud. We had a good winter but it’s never straightforward. You always have challenges to overcome and there’s nothing for certain, so we have to keep pushing. Personally, I have focussed on pushing myself even harder for the rematch with Lewis. In the end, it comes down to who can put the best season together overall and I have to make sure it’s the other way around this time. Having said that, my team-mate is just one of many strong competitors who I have to beat if I want to be World Champion, so I’m just focused on being the absolute best I can be. I now know the feeling of winning races and I intend to do a lot more of that – but I also know the feeling of not winning in the end and I don’t intend to repeat that experience. It’s a huge motivation for me and gives me even more determination for 2015.
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
First of all, a thank you to everybody for the hard work through what proved to be, on the Power Unit side and on the chassis side, a hard winter – probably harder than anticipated. Last year, when there was a big change in the regulations, everybody knew what a huge challenge it would be to do a good job.
But while the regulations didn’t change a lot for this season, still the workload and the effort required over the winter was huge in terms of finding gains and improving the car overall. A lot of work has been done by the teams at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart to get us out of the blocks well and we had a solid start in testing.
But, fundamentally, making predictions at this stage is like trying to read a crystal ball, which is not what we want to do. The bullet is out of the gun and eventually we are going to find out where we stand in Melbourne and in the races afterwards. But as of right now we haven’t been racing and this is the only true test.
It felt like a very short winter! February in particular has been intense, with 12 days of track testing condensed into four weeks. However, we’re all very much looking forward to getting to the first race and getting back to competing. The team is in good shape after the winter programme.
So far the car looks to be a step forward in terms of speed and reliability compared to where we were this time last year, so we’re hoping for a good result in Melbourne. Externally there is sure to be a certain level of expectation after testing – but racing is a very different matter. It’s an unforgiving business. There is a huge amount of work to do and plenty to make sure you get right if you are to come away from a Grand Prix weekend with a strong result.
We’re not taking anything for granted. All of the preparations concerning the specification of the car, fixes to problems encountered over the winter, dusting off the rulebook to re-familiarise ourselves with the procedures we have to follow – these must all be spot on to ensure a successful start to the racing year.
The drivers are certainly in good shape. Both are very enthusiastic and eager to let battle commence. Then there’s Melbourne itself, which is an event the whole paddock enjoys. The atmosphere around the city is fantastic, with huge numbers of fans from Australia and all parts of the world. So we’re looking forward to an exciting and, hopefully, successful weekend. This is the point at which the race crew departs to go out there and do the best job possible on behalf of the vast majority of the team left behind at the factories. A phenomenal effort has gone into designing this car – beginning as long as 12 months ago. So we hope to reward the hard work of everyone involved at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart and showcase their innovation and craftsmanship in the most fitting way by delivering on track.
Featured This Week: Safety / Medical Car
The GT S and the C 63 S – the new high-performance cars from Mercedes-AMG – provide for maximum safety in the 2015 FIA Formula One World Championship™. At the first Grand Prix in Melbourne, Australia (12 to 15 March 2015) the GT S will debut on the race track as the Official Safety Car of the FIA Formula One World Championship™. As the Official Medical Car of the FIA Formula One World Championship™, the C 63 S Estate will be on hand to provide fast emergency medical care. Mercedes-AMG has been active continuously at the pinnacle of motorsport since 1996.
The new GT S is the perfect vehicle to guide the Formula 1® field safely around the track when bad weather conditions or accidents necessitate deployment of the Safety Car. The second sports car developed independently by Mercedes-AMG boasts ideal credentials for this tough job in the premiere motorsport competition. The front mid-engine concept with transaxle, the V8 biturbo engine with dry sump lubrication, the dual clutch transmission and the cutting-edge sports suspension with aluminium double-wishbone axles provide the basis for fast laps on the race circuit. Excellent driving dynamics are in the DNA of the Mercedes-AMG GT S: the intelligent aluminium lightweight design guarantees not only a low vehicle weight but also a low centre of gravity for the vehicle and an advantageous weight distribution of 47 to 53 percent between front and rear axle.
Bernd Mayländer (GER, age 43), driver of the Official Safety Car of the FIA Formula One World Championship™ since 2000, notes: “The gull-wing SLS AMG was my official car in Formula 1® for five years. Now I’m looking forward to the new Mercedes-AMG GT S, which I have been fortunate enough to get to know during its development phase. The new AMG sports car won me over immediately with its high-calibre race track performance.” The former DTM driver also works as an instructor for the AMG Driving Academy and as a Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador at selected events.
Stringent catalogue of requirements for the Safety Car
High cornering speeds, dynamic bursts of speed and fast lap times – the Safety Car is subject to a stringent catalogue of requirements drawn up by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile). After all, it has to be capable of guiding the racing cars from the top class of motorsport around the circuit in extreme situations. And the Safety Car must not go about its work at too low a speed either, in order to avoid the tyres and brakes of the Formula 1® cars cooling down to an excessive degree and to ensure that the engines do not overheat. Bernd Mayländer, who shares the cockpit of the Safety Car with FIA Fuel Analyst Peter Tibbetts (GB, age 59), explains: “We are on stand-by in the Safety Car in the pit lane, waiting for instructions from the race organisers.” When bad weather or any incidents pose a threat to safe continuation of the race, the Safety Car team is duly deployed.
Drivetrain configured to the same standard as the road-going version of the GT S
The drivetrain of the Official Safety Car of the FIA Formula One World Championship™ corresponds to the system featuring on the road-going version of the AMG GT S. With a maximum power output of 375 kW (510 hp) and peak torque of 650 newton metres, the 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine guarantees high-end performance: the GT S dashes from a standing start to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds and attains a maximum speed of 310 km/h. As music to the ears of the Formula 1® fans in the stands and in front of their TV screens, the GT S is fitted with a modified Performance exhaust system for an even more striking and emotive AMG V8 engine sound.
The Mercedes-AMG GT S clearly has race track performance in its genes, as only a small number of modifications were required to transform it into the Official Safety Car of the FIA Formula One World Championship™. The AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7 speed sports transmission corresponds 100 percent to the series production unit, for example. The DYNAMIC PLUS package with which the Safety Car is equipped is optionally available to any GT S customer for a further increase in driving dynamics. It comprises dynamic engine and transmission mounts and a specific engine application in “RACE” DYNAMIC SELECT transmission mode and in manual transmission mode “M”. The package also includes tauter spring and damper tuning, more negative camber at the front axle as well as an adapted speed-sensitive sports steering system. The Performance steering wheel in black DINAMICA microfibre and yellow highlights in the instrument cluster round off the AMG DYNAMIC PLUS package.
The Safety Car runs on particularly light cross-spoke forged wheels with fully integrated wheel bolt covers. The forged wheels painted in matt black with high-sheen rim flanges are fitted with tyres in standard size 265/35 R 19 on 9 x 19 (front) and 295/30 R 20 on 11 x 20 (rear). This wheel/tyre combination is also optionally available to customers for the Mercedes-AMG GT and the GT S.
The high-performance ceramic composite braking system is also optionally available for the road version of the GT. The advantages of this system are lower weight, a longer service life and even better fade resistance thanks to the ceramic brake discs with a diameter of 402 millimetres at the front and 360 millimetres at the rear.
Aerodynamically optimised carbon-fibre air scoop on the roof
In terms of appearance, the Mercedes-AMG GT S Safety Car differs from the series production vehicle above all by virtue of the striking FIA and F1® logos and the light bar on the roof. The latter is positioned on a carbon-fibre air scoop that is designed such as to offer the least possible airstream resistance while at the same time providing for an aerodynamically optimised flow of air towards the rear aerofoil. The positioning and design of the carbon-fibre air scoop and the light bar are the result of extensive wind tunnel tests. The rear aerofoil corresponds exactly to the aerofoil included in the Aerodynamics package; it forms part of the particularly exclusive “Edition 1”.
All signalling functions on the light bar are performed by fast-responding, energy-efficient LEDs. Overview of functions:
Orange: As soon as the Safety Car is deployed, the orange LEDs are switched on. The flashing orange light in the middle and the steady lights on the outer ends of the light bar indicate “absolutely no overtaking”.
Green: When the GT S takes up a position in the middle of the field at the beginning of a Safety Car phase, the two central LED panels on the front and rear of the light bar are switched from orange to green. Green lights indicate to all Formula 1® drivers that the Safety Car is to be overtaken.
Mounted on the light bar is a TV camera such as is also used on the Formula 1® racing cars. Another camera is located on the stowage tray behind the seats.
The special number plate at the rear with Safety Car lettering and orange/green LEDs is synchronised with the light bar and provides for added safety in the dark or in rain. The headlamps and tail lights perform an additional important signalling function: whenever the Safety Car is on the track, a stroboscopic effect makes the car even more conspicuous.
Multiple Displays, WLAN and sports bucket seats in the cockpit
While Bernd Mayländer is fully focused on the race track and keeping an eye on the Formula 1® field in the rearview mirror, Peter Tibbetts is in radio contact with the race organisers. Mayländer and Tibbetts also communicate with each other by radio. A second radio system is integrated in the cockpit as a back-up solution for emergencies. Peter Tibbetts monitors the Formula 1® vehicles by means of two touch screen displays. The display on the left shows the International Feed of the Grand Prix, for example. The right-hand monitor can optionally show an animated presentation indicating the current positions of the vehicles on the track or current lap times. Data management for the visual communication solutions is performed by an InCar Hotspot with WLAN.
Various FIA-specific systems, such as are used in every Formula 1® racing car, are also installed – the transponder system for timing purposes, the high-resolution GPS and the standard telemetry, for example. Also on board is the “Marshalling System”, which shows the driver the flag signals for the current section of the circuit by means of three coloured LEDs. In the Safety Car and Medical Car the system is equipped with an additional function – the so-called “Medical Warning Light”. Should an accident occur on the track in which a critical G-force threshold is exceeded, the LEDs will flash several times, prompting Bernd Mayländer and Peter Tibbetts to prepare for imminent deployment.
In order to ensure that the racing weekend goes off smoothly, all systems undergo thorough testing with the Safety Car and Medical Car before and during the event.
Six-point seat belts and sports bucket seats with the AMG emblem provide maximum support for the Safety Car’s crew. The interior of the GT S otherwise corresponds to that of the production vehicle.
The new Mercedes-AMG GT S is replacing the SLS AMG, which served as the Official Safety Car of the FIA Formula One World Championship™ from 2010. The gull-wing model was deployed in ten out of 19 races last season and entered the race track 14 times in all.