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Mercedes-AMG this week took the wraps off its new Formula 1 challenger, the W12, and the brand hopes it will not only carry Lewis Hamilton to a record eighth world title, but also help improve the next generation of AMG performance cars.
The increased AMG branding on the W12 is one of the most obvious differences with last year’s racer, and it speaks to an closer partnership between the AMG road car engineers in Affalterbach, Germany, and the F1 engineers and designers at the F1 teams in Brackley (chassis) and Brixworth (engine) in the UK.
AMG is on the verge of launching a raft of new hybrid-powered models, starting with the F1-inspired AMG One hypercar but soon followed by the GT 4-door Coupe with a plug-in hybrid V8 powertrain, under the new AMG E Performance brand.
AMG is able to take technical learnings from F1 and apply it to road cars, as seen by the new electric turbocharger that will debut in the next-generation C63 with its new four-cylinder engine. But the F1 team’s experience with simulation technology as well as high-performance battery and thermal management are all areas AMG is hoping to benefit from.
“The technical challenges in Formula One are tremendous and are thus a fascinating challenge for an engineer,” explained Jochen Hermann, Mercedes-AMG GmbH member of management
“In the elite class of motorsport, the current hybrid power units are not only extremely powerful, they also have tremendous thermal efficiency – characteristics that we also pursue in our series models. Through the close exchange, we can use a multitude of experience and technologies from Formula 1 in our performance hybrids for the road.”
AMG is also hoping to lean more heavily on Hamilton’s high profile to help promote its cars, with the recently knighted driver appearing in advertising for the E Performance models.
Hamilton is on course to become the most successful F1 driver in history – one more world title would take him past Michael Schumacher’s record of seven. He’s also got the most wins, 95, and should comfortably hit triple-digits this season if Mercedes-AMG continues its domination of the hybrid era of the sport.
Mercedes-AMG wasn’t the only team taking the covers off its 2021 F1 challenger this week. Aston Martin has made its return to F1 after a 61-year absence.
Under the leadership of new owner, Lawrence Stroll, the British brand has taken over what was known as the Racing Point team in 2020, replacing its pink colour scheme with a classic British Racing Green. Stroll believes racing in F1 will help re-establish the brand as a serious rival to Ferrari and Mercedes-AMG after declining road-car sales.
Stroll has hired four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel to lead the team and become a brand ambassador for Aston Martin to give the brand some extra attraction. The second entry will be driven by Stroll’s son, Lance.
The new car is officially known as the AMR21 and will be powered by a Mercedes-AMG 1.6-litre V6 turbo hybrid powertrain, as part of the close ties between the British and German brands.
Aston Martin CEO (and former AMG boss) Tobias Moers believes the entry into F1 will have a number of significant benefits for the car maker.
“The Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team will have far-reaching positive effects on the Aston Martin brand, our culture, and the design and technology of Aston Martin road cars,” he said.
“Our return to Formula One will positively and profoundly affect every employee and foremost our customer journey all over the world; and will help us bring a focused, agile Formula One way of thinking to the whole Aston Martin business.”
French performance brand Alpine has grand plans to become an all-electric rival to the likes of Mercedes-AMG and Porsche – and it also wants to be F1 world champion, too.
As part of Renault’s ambitious plans for Alpine, it has rebranded its F1 in traditional French Racing Blue and hired back two-time champion Fernando Alonso to lead the team, replacing Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo. The Spaniard hasn’t raced in F1 since 2018, taking a two-year break to compete in a variety of events including the Indianapolis 500 and Dakar Rally to reignite his passion for racing.
Recently installed Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi said the move into F1 is important for building the brand’s image as a serious performance carmaker.
“This is an important milestone for Alpine, as it positions itself as the brand at the forefront of Groupe Renault’s innovation,” Rossi explained.
“Alpine naturally finds its place in the high standards, prestige and performance of Formula 1, and we’re eagerly anticipating the debut of the A521 piloted by our drivers, two-time Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.
“This year our objective is clear, to continue the momentum that was garnered last year and fight for podiums. Our long-term vision is to see the Alpine name on the top step of the podium in Formula 1.
“Motorsports is in our DNA and now is the time for Alpine colours to race and compete in the pinnacle of motor racing in Formula 1.”
Alonso wasn’t present at the team’s virtual launch and initial shakedown test of the new A521 car after recently being involved in a cycling accident while training. But he is reportedly on track to be fully fit for the start of the season.
“I’m very excited to be back in Formula 1 and to be part of Alpine F1 Team’s next chapter in the sport,” he said. “I’ve been working hard to prepare myself for racing back in Formula 1, and the target is to attack from the beginning.”