Mercedes aimed for '90% car' for 2017 F1 season

Mercedes aimed to produce what it has described as "a 90% car" for the 2017 Formula 1 season, as it was the first year of a new set of technical regulations

Mercedes aimed for '90% car' for 2017 F1 season

The dominant team of the V6 hybrid engine era managed to win the drivers' and constructors' championship double for the fourth year running, but it admits that it did not want to aim too high with its first car built to the new rules.

Speaking exclusively to F1 Racing magazine about the Mercedes W08, chief designer John Owen said the car had more flexibility factored into its design than the previous year's W07.

"I set the objective to build a 90% car for 2017," said Owen.

"It might seem strange not to aim for 100%, but the problem you face in any new set of rules is that you can't be certain of the challenges you'll face along the way - how the rules evolve, whether the tyres behave differently from how you expected.

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"There's a lot of unknowns there, so you aim for a car that can cover as many different circumstances as possible, and accept that it might not be the pinnacle of optimisation.

"We built a lot of adjustment into the car, the capability to react to things we saw.

"Unfortunately, most of the things we had to adapt to we hadn't seen coming.

"So we carried a lot of compromise through the year for things that didn't need to be changed and we struggled a bit with those that did."

Owen added that greater optimisation of a car concept "tends to come in the second or third year of regulation stability", and that one late change the team faced on the eve of the season would have been far more problematic if it had happened the year before.

"What I mean [by a 90% car] is that it's quite spacious in places," he said.

"The reason for that was to enable us to react during the design process and move things round.

"We didn't know where the aerodynamic development would take us, to some extent - what areas of the car we'd need to find more space on for aero performance, what areas were safe zones where you don't find any aero.

"If you can move things around in the car and not have to reinvent every part of it with every new development, it's quite wise.

"We did have a very late change to one aspect of the power unit, and because of our philosophy we could accommodate it reasonably well.

"If that had happened on our 2016 car it would literally have been a case of tearing up the design and starting again.

"It was nice to have that little bit of breathing space, whereas for the next car we can afford to be a lot more aggressive."

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