Every gram counts. Literally. Mercedes dominated the first four Formula 1 races of the season, and that is by no means a coincidence. In addition to building the best car, they also do everything at the racing stable to carry as little weight as possible. And those measures are pretty extreme. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas race around with seamless underwear and shortened laces. And that's just the beginning ...
That Mercedes is boss in the current Formula 1 season is an understatement. In the first four races, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas neatly divided the victories among themselves. With the victory of one, the other occupied the second podium place every time. Four perfect one-two pairs, and that doesn't have to be a coincidence.
SunSport spoke with John Owen, chief designer at the racing stable, to find out the details behind the super fast cars. What seems? Mercedes really moves heaven and earth to save every gram. The speed devils, for example, wear seamless underwear, which means they weigh ten grams lighter. They also opt for ultra-light shoes made of the fire-resistant material Nomex where the laces are shortened. Each shoe weighs no less than 50 grams less, or 100 grams in total.
But it goes even further. For example, certain parts of the car - usually the bodywork that is invisible like the base plate - are not painted. This also saves dozens of grams. In addition, Hamilton and Bottas wear specially designed suits from Puma. Flame resistant, but barely 650 grams in weight. Finally, Hamilton also dares to save heavily on water. When the heat is bearable, the five-time world champion dares to leave his water bottle in the paddock. In total, the Brit sails two kilograms less in his Mercedes car that way.
"There is a wide range of things that every racing stable can focus on to improve, but I think it is the little nuances that make the difference," Hamilton said in an earlier interview. “In addition to the strategy of the team or the power of the engine, those small elements are very important. This way we manage to get the best out of every weekend. "
In the recent conversation with SunSport, designer Owen confirms that thought. “A few years ago we really started to focus on those details. The length of the laces, the amount of velcro in a racing suit, the thickness of the material. Or seams that we place on the outside of the gloves so that they do not hinder the drivers. That's what it's about."
But Hamilton would not be Hamilton if he went one step further. For the Spanish Grand Prix, to be held this weekend, he presented the team with some new ideas to make the car even lighter and therefore faster. They are top secret at the moment. "Indeed, Lewis recently came up with some new insights. He recommended it to our design team, but they remain secret. "