F1 2021 Car Reveals: Mercedes W12 – How it compares to the W11

The first team to put their hat into the ring this week is Mercedes, holding a digital launch for the Mercedes AMG F1 W12 E Performance, to give it its full name.

It’s good to see Brackley hasn’t lost its knack of recent, giving its creations absurd names for the sake of the road car project.

A rather muted launch for the new car, holding just a couple of interviews with Toto Wolff, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas with some glimpses of Mercedes’ motorsport endeavours before showing the car in the light of day.

The car itself was shown in studio-style renders around half an hour before the event, sporting a revised version of 2020’s design. The new livery is refined, with larger AMG branding, particularly at the rear of the car.

The stars that took pride of place just 3 months ago are gone, replaced by the in-house tuner’s logo and a striking new typeface for the required driver numbers.

The Ineos branding is larger, with cleaner lines, particularly on the air intake above the driver. This cleaner look also extends to the Petronas green flashes flowing down the car.

The W12

(Both images edited for increased visibility) Left: W11 in Abu Dhabi, Right: 2021 W12 Render

At the front of the car, Mercedes has stuck with essentially the same design as in 2020. Although, revision has been made to the front wing elements, featuring the required 4, though the top two are slightly reconfigured on the inboard side.

Where previously the top element extended right over the top of the one below, is stops short, Mercedes using a slot in the plane below to maintain the maximum element count under the rules.

The end and footplate appears unchanged from before, and Mercedes have retained the S duct and cape used on the now familiar and relentlessly imitated narrow nose they pioneered through this era of rules. One component in this area Mercedes will have changed is the highly controversial DAS system used to warm its front tyres. While Mercedes have said it’s “not a closed book” (Echoes of ground effect anyone?), it shouldn’t return in its original form this year.

The brake ducts seem to be significantly revised, moving the large protrusion below the lower wishbone instead of above as it was before. The bargeboards appear unrevised from this angle also, suggesting Mercedes is being cute with what it shows at this early stage of development.

Left: W11 in Bahrain, Right W12 Render

Moving backwards down the car, the bargeboard and sidepod turning vanes are virtually identical as stated earlier, the silver arrows keen to prevent rival teams unravelling their secrets before the car has even turned a wheel.

In another effort to keep the pretenders to their throne at bay just a little longer, the floor is cut away as required, but Mercedes wouldn’t be as bold as Red Bull as to show what it had placed there. When launching the car, James Allison gave the reason for this smoke and mirrors, “buying the team time” apparently. If the team needed more time, Mercedes-AMG HPP seems to have made changes in an effort to get it for them on track, with a noticeable bulge appearing in the engine cover, as the Brixworth department squeezes every last horse from the 1.6 litres.

The rear wing of the car also returns, unchanged, Mercedes playing the game of Formula 1 as the seasoned professionals they have risen to be.

From this higher angle, we can see the rear of the car may as well be the W11’s with all the changes the Mercs have hidden. Aerodynamically, the wing and t-wing are the same, supported by the same mountings as previously.

To get a real look at the car’s rear end, we will have to wait until pre-season testing in Bahrain, as none of the angles used by Mercedes show the diffuser in any detail. Before then, or Alpine’s launch later today, catch up on our thoughts on the new AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo and Red Bull.

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