Mercedes Benz have unveiled their radical new engine cover which they hope will propel them to the top of the podium in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The German car manufacturer has been struggling with its car against the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull Racing, however weeks of hard work and technical advancement have led to the team launching swathes of upgrades including an extended wheelbase and this new engine cover.
The cover has a very thin roll bar, and two large ducts on either side as opposed to the normal circular engine duct seen where the roll hoop is. It will also be used in conjunction with an F-Duct.
Michael Schumacher shook down the new car in a filming event last week and will be looking to get more comfortable following a difficult return to F1.
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has announced that McLaren Autmotive Holdings have purchased back a significant amount of the shares owned by Mercedes Benz in the McLaren F1 Team.
Prior to buying Brawn GP and turning it into a works Mercedes Benz outfit, the German car manufacturer bought up a significant portion of the team during their close partnership between 1997 and 2009, approximately 40% of the team was owned by them at the end of last year.
Ron Dennis, the former team principal owns 15% and is now in charge of their road car division, which launched the eagerly anticipated MP4-12C yesterday, a 200mph supercar designed to compete with the Ferrari 458 Italia and Aston Martin DBS.
Mansour Ojjeh, a Saudi Arabian businessman owns another 15% portion, and Mumtalakat, a Bahrain investor owns 30%.
“I think it is about 11 per cent that is still owned by Mercedes, but it’s not an important or significant number,” Whitmarsh was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Mercedes Benz will launch their car at the end of January in a mega cermony in Stuttgart, German newspaper Bild reports.
In the revelation article, the Bild, says that the show will take place in the Mercedes Benz area of the German city, around Unterturkheim. Mercedes recently built their new museum there, next to their factory.
Dubbed the “Schumi Show” the cost of the event is unknown. Plans for a joint launch ceremony between teams was dropped earlier this week as smaller teams were concerned they would not recieve enough coverage.
Michael Schumacher will take his first drive in the new Mercedes in early February at the first proper test session.
An engine de-freeze allowing manufacturers to create more competitive and faster engines could be in place at the end of the current 2009 season according to the Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali.
At the end of 2008, Renault were allowed a temporary de-freeze to allow them to catch up in terms of engine pace. With mercedes Benz becoming so dominant this season, other rival manufacturers could be allowed to change their engines with Toyota especially becoming slow on top end horsepower and speed.
With Cosworth coming into the sport as well as an engine manufacturer to Manor, Campos and USF1, there is a possibility the engine freeze restriction could be abandoned altogether.
“This is for sure something that we will be discussing in the engine working group because today we have seen a really great performance from the Mercedes engine and before we make a final decision we have to see the numbers connected to that.” Domenicali said after the Italian GP
“It is a point that is on the table to discuss among the teams, as it is something that we need to understand,” he added.
Mercedes Benz’s commitment to Formula One is once again under the spotlight today after a German station Subwestrundfunk discussed the possibility that F1 could be something the group cut in a meeting this week.
The German marques directors are meeting in Stuttgart to discuss the future of the company, which is currently losing around $1billion per month.
Drastic cost saving measures will be discussed, with directors pay and bonuses already the first announced cuts. However, with problems such as Lie-Gate, and now with the engine supply to 3 teams, the company could be looking to cut down on their supply, or even drop out altogether.
“If you’re asking me ‘are we here for the next ten years?’ then everybody who is honest, and I am honest, cannot give you an answer about how the world, the car industry, the economical surroundings will develop,” he is quoted as saying by GP Week.
“I hope it changes. It’s not easy for anybody but I hope it changes.” Haug added
Lie-Gate won’t have helped McLaren’s chances of keeping the engine deal, with Brawn GP standing on the top step of the podium for the first two races of the season, it would be little suprise to see a cut down contract from the company only covering the small Brackley based team.
Lets not forget McLaren have only had Mercedes Benz engines since 1997, it is no guarantee for the team to run the 3 pointed star on the nosecone.
“Victories would be better than having discussions like these,” the German said about Lewis Hamilton and McLaren’s lie to the FIA. “But we are clearly unhappy with the situation, as it is right now.”
Lewis Hamilton might be cut out of today’s testing completely in Jerez after he retired to the pits this morning with flames puring out of the back of his McLaren.
The British driver had completed just 7 laps of the circuit before he returned to the pitlane.
Mechanics were quick to put out the flames, but this is not the first time a Mercedes engine has given up during the pre-season tests with the 2009 MP4-24. Could McLaren be returning to the unreliability that plagued them between 2004-6?
Hamilton was quick to play down the incident…;
“We had an issue, but I think they’re fixing it and we’ll be back out as soon as possible,” he told reporters.
“But the car was good this morning. I didn’t get many laps, but I’m looking forward to getting back out.”