Mercedes-Benz F1 W08 in detail

Low rake means less variation in the aero platform across different ride heights. The aero platform does not therefore need to be held by the suspension in such a narrow window. This has allowed the W08 softer springing, helping tyre life. It also helps it be quick in the wet, with good mechanical grip. But soft springing actually complicated the aero problems at big steering-lock corners, as increased body roll caused airflow interference at the floor’s front. Although not apparent beneath the mechanical clothing here, the engine layout, with its compressor at one end and turbine at the other – linked by a long shaft running through the vee – helps move the weight distribution forwards compared to the Ferrari’s more conventional turbine/compressor at the back of the engine. This will be a valuable compensation for the W08’s generally inflexible weight distribution arising from high total weight and comparative lack of ballast. The permitted window of front/rear weight distribution (46/54 front/rear) has a tolerance of half-a-percent. To utilise that full range of tolerance requires 5kg of ballast to be available, which the Mercedes does not have but the Ferrari does.

Complex guide vane arrangement biased towards accelerating flow to leading edge of floor to compensate for floor’s lack of rake. Relying heavily on the powerful front part of the floor for its overall downforce meant that on slow corners, which require more steering lock, the steered wheels formed more of a blockage to total downforce, hurting slow corner performance. This then fed into the tyre temperature problem. Without sufficient load being fed to the core of the tyre, it would remain cool, inflexible and therefore gripless. As it slid, so the surface would overheat, feeding yet lower loads to the core, which would remain cool even as the surface overheated.