Like each year, we present our very own season review, hand-crafted by our Formula 1 hitlady Dessislava Jeleva. It’s a fresh team-by-team report of 2015, from the heights of Mercedes to pits of Manor, including all relevant shifts, tricks and twists in the travelling circus of Formula 1.
This year the teams were given alternative Star Wars titles, enjoy!
The double-bladed lightsaber
The 2014 season for Mercedes was so spectacular that it seemed impossible to repeat. The Brackley-based outfit, however, did it again and did it better this year. Both world titles were wrapped up by the United States Grand Prix, a month before the end of the season. Now, the geniuses at Brackley and Brixworth take on the challenge to complete a perfect treble and they have all the right ingredients to make it happen.
The class of the field
Ferrari made big strides in power unit development during the last 12 months. The Italian hybrid turbo system is almost on par with Mercedes’s. Almost. In-season development helped Mercedes stay one step ahead throughout the year. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg started the season with a crushing advantage and finished it in a similar manner. The Ferrari engineers had put most on their efforts to finally matching Mercedes at the Italian Grand Prix, but were dumbfounded when the Mercedes High Performance Powertrains unit used up seven update tokens to stay well ahead.
The Brixworth power unit operation, however, should not get the entire credit for the team’s success. The aerodynamics department at Brackley is also pushing the boundaries. Mercedes’s car is equally impressive at high downforce street tracks like Monaco and high speed race tracks like Monza.
Mercedes’s management and shareholder structure certainly raised some eyebrows when it was set up two years ago.
Mercedes’s strength is not only its own staff. The team’s sponsors and partners are also at the cutting edge of their fields. The team recently began partnerships with the electronics manufacturer Epson (producer of printers, scanners, 3LCD projectors and smart glasses) and semiconductor company Qualcomm. The tie-in with Qualcomm is particularly important as it allows the Mercedes engineers to wirelessly stream telemetry data from the car at extremely high speeds.
Real-time data analysis allows the team to excel everywhere and react to changing conditions swiftly. A slight disturbance in the tracking of the cars in Monaco resulted in Lewis Hamilton surrendering a certain race win. With partners like Qualcomm, Mercedes is working to minimize such ‘no data’ moments and pursuing continuous innovation on and off-the-track.
Perfect harmony at the top
Mercedes’s management and shareholder structure certainly raised some eyebrows when it was set up two years ago. Toto Wolff is Executive Director (Business) and owns 30% of the Formula 1 team. Paddy Lowe is Executive Director (Technical). Niki Lauda is non-executive chairman and owns 10% of the team. The three of them work in harmony and have steered the company to the unbelievable 32 wins in the last 38 races.
Certain media outlets reported there was a rift at the top with regards to Red Bull Racing’s quest to obtain Mercedes power units. Lauda had worked hard on a deal with fellow Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz, but his efforts were undermined by Wolff’s pursue of Manor as a fourth customer. The rumours that suggested Lauda could leave before the end of the season, however, could not be further from the truth. Both managers agree that a deal with RBR that could threaten the team’s dominance in Formula 1 could only make sense if it was underwritten by a serious partnership across the board.
Mercedes has all the right ingredients behind the scenes and Lewis Hamilton have put them to great use in the last two years. In 2015, it was obvious from the start that Hamilton would secure his third title well in advance. Nico Rosberg, however, demonstrated considerable progress in the last three races of the season. The chips are set for another titanic battle between the two drivers.
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