Competition for the F1 2018 title is already revving up as the rival teams unveil their new cars for the season.
The first serious track testing starts in Barcelona within a few days, but engineers and drivers are already grumbling about the new halo safety system installed to protect drivers.
The halo is designed to stop head injuries and must be fitted to every car.
The teams accept stepping driver safety as a priority, but complain the new attachment is unwieldy and heavy, altering the car’s aerodynamics and centre of gravity and affects handling.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said: “”I am not impressed with the whole thing and if you give me a chain saw I would take it off.
Halo is a problem
“We need to look after the driver safety but what we have implemented is aesthetically not appealing. we need to tackle that and come up with something that looks better. it is a massive weight on the car and you screw up the centre of gravity.”
Wolff also explained his team had worked on keeping the Mercedes as F1’s fastest car while trying to improve handling on slow tracks.
Because the car specification has stayed the same this season, much of the engineering has been on aerodynamics and the suspension rather than under the bonnet.
F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has tried the car at Silverstone and seems happy with the performance.
Souped up performance
Meanwhile, Mercedes great rivals at Ferrari has been working on souping up performance to stay with the Mercedes on fast tracks.
One change is a slightly longer wheelbase to give more downforce.
“It is an evolution of last year’s car which was already a good project,” technical director Mattia Binotto said. “We tried to maintain the strengths, aggressiveness of some of the design, and working well on low-speed circuits.
“But we also had to work on aerodynamic development to make it strong on high-speed circuits but as well on reliability.
“We have a slightly longer wheelbase, we have side pods and radiator ducts even more aggressive than last year – bodywork packaging is very tight. The body is very narrow.”