Ladies and gents, this is the car that is most likely to give Mercedes its 7th consecutive Formula 1 Constructor’s title. The 2020 season also marks the 10th anniversary of Mercedes’ return to F1 as a works team. So, what’s new with the W11 Silver Arrow?
The regulations have remained relatively stable ahead of the 2021 cars, so as usual the visible changes are in the aerodynamic details. The W11 also gets an all-new power unit called the M11 EQ Performance. Since the 1.6-litre turbo-hybrid era began in 2014, Mercedes has improved its PU’s thermal efficiency from around 44% to over 50%. For reference, a usual road car engine would usually reach about 30% thermal efficiency.
Mercedes acknowledges that the 2019 power unit struggled in hot temperatures and the team has worked to improve the cooling package for W11. It also gets larger radiators to help with that. The team breaks down the changes for the 2020 car into three parts – front, middle and rear. The front gets more structural complexity, the middle gets a repositioned upper-side-impact tube and the rear features “an adventurous suspension layout”.
The new livery for the W11 was unveiled earlier as Mercedes announced its new Principal Partner INEOS. It retains the silver-blue theme as usual with a touch of red. The red is most promient at the air scoop just above the driver, like a red cap which I thought was a clever nod to Niki Lauda. But it turns out there is a single red star among all the silver starts on the engine cover in memory of Lauda. While the livery doesn’t look bad, its another case of having a near identical looking car as last year.
In terms of driver lineup, Mercedes has stuck with the winning formula of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. It’s hard to believe this is Bottas’ fourth year in the Silver Arrow seat. The Finn had his best season yet in 2019 and will be looking to improve upon it in 2020. It may be premature to say this but Bottas may be looking to find a new team in 2021 to not be Hamilton’s side kick anymore. Will Hamilton finally equal the world title tally of Michael Schumacher in 2020? Or will he finally be dethroned by a Ferrari? Maybe even by a Red Bull? Hopefully, we the fans will get a more interesting season with a close fought title race unlike 2019.