Mercedes might be a little more under pressure from Ferrari this season but the current world champions will only have themselves to blame if they lose their grasp on this second title. The W06 is a refinement of last years championship winning car, whilst the PU106B power unit is proving to be even more formidable than its predecessor.
Whilst others are already taking grid penalties for exceeding their allocation, Mercedes powered drivers only switched to a second set of components at the seventh – yes seventh- grand prix of the year (save Sergio Perez, who’s still on his first ICE, TC, MGU-H and MGU-K and Lewis Hamilton who’d taken another CE earlier in the season).
Reliability of the PU106A was often Mercedes High Performance Powertrain’s (HPP) achilles heel during 2014, but it’s clear that Brixworth have ironed out many of those creases and also spent the most tokens revamping their power unit before the season commenced.
Looking back at Canada 2014 the team ran too close to the margins, as both cars suffered MGU-K failures, impeding their braking ability and forcing Hamilton to retire on lap 46. In order to make good on last years performance the team set about making some changes to the W06.
The front brake ‘cake tin’, which is normally fully enclosed [inset above], disperses heat in a more aerodynamically efficient way and radiates heat through the wheel rim to keep the front-tyres at the optimum temperature and pressure, was changed for this year’s race. The new ‘cake tin’ [circled above] stopped short of the brake disc, resulting in the heat generated by the brakes being dispatched more quickly through the wheel face, lowering the risk of overheating and requiring a more rear-ward brake bias, that would have put more emphasis on the MGU-K and smaller rear-brakes.
You can’t simply put additional pressure on the MGU-K though without making some modifications. The team revised their cooling of the MGU-K, with a larger oil cooler placed astride the exhaust. To house this oil cooler, two blisters protruded from the engine covers usually svelte posterior [circled above]. This will have marginally compromised the car aerodynamically but it would be worth it for the added piece of mind.
In response to the FIA’s new front wing flap deflection test, Mercedes made a small revision to the front wing, adding a small vane to the second flap [circled above], to better support the upper flap toward the tip. This vane sits in opposition to the flaps direction, which will likely shed a vortex that goes some way to marginalising the loss of the effect created by the deforming flaps.
The W06’s floor received some attention in Montreal, with the area around the tyre squirt slot and periphery of the diffuser lined by metal [above]. The combination of the softest tyre compounds available and the tracks characteristics, can lead to rubber build up in these key area’s and so having a surface it is less likely to adhere to is more desirable. Furthermore, the metalwork provides the requisite rigidity and flexibility for the circuits high and low downforce characteristics.