Mercedes W08, the 2017 F1 car was very confusing in its behaviour for most of the season, the team’s Chief designer John Owen admitted.
The German outfit won its fourth consecutive double championships last year after trailing their primary rival Ferrari in the first six races of the season. The team could not unlock the full potential of its new car due to its unpredictability and was named as the ‘Diva’ by the team boss Toto Wolff.
During the early part of the campaign, the car was overweight and was not able to use Pirelli’s new Ultrasoft compound effectively. But thanks to the in-season development, the team won both the titles comfortably.
The initial difficulties faced by the car came as a surprise to the team as Mercedes had taken a forensic approach to design and engineering. The outfit worked very hard to understand and resolved most of the issues.
“With this car, we didn’t understand it, and I think the term ‘Diva’ came along because we seemed to do what looked like the right things and it didn’t respond the way we wanted it to,” Owen told Motorsport.
“In those early races we were pretty confused, to be honest, and we really didn’t know what we should do.”
The squad finally figured out that the car was hard on the rear tyres which in turn, caused other issues.
“Throughout the year our car was probably heavier on its rear tyres; some were heavier on their front tyres,” he explained. “It’s trying to work out the best way to run your car to balance the wear both ends.
“We found tracks like Silverstone, Montreal, or Monza, Austin, Suzuka – these are really good tracks for us, but the slower tracks, the hotter circuits, we struggled more.
“We tried a lot of things and gradually, as the races went by, the more we thought about it, the more analysis we did – and I’d say we did more than any other year in digging into and understanding – we started to get on top of those issues.
“That’s been great, and I think at the end of the season we probably wouldn’t call our car a diva anymore.
“Certainly, we intend to knock out as many of those awkward characteristics as we can for next year, and hopefully not introduce any new ones.”