2018 Car of the Year: Mercedes AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+

The Mercedes AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+ Formula 1 race car, designed and developed under the direction of Aldo Costa (Engineering Director), James Allison (Technical Director), Mike Elliott (Technology Director) and Geoff Willis (Director of Engineering Process), is the car of the year simply because I cannot imagine a race driver picking any other piece of kit should they have had a choice of car.

Perhaps it was not the most dominant car Mercedes have had in recent years, nevertheless, it did win more than half the races in Lewis Hamilton’s hands. In fact, it would be fair to say that the car was built for Lewis and he did what he does best, delivered two world championship titles for his team. Their tenth in five years!

Maybe the W09 was not the best chassis, with Red Bull’s RB14 particularly handy and only let down by the down on power Renault PU. The Ferrari SF71H also had flashes of brilliance, but the team took a journey down the garden path with their development programme, which ultimately compromised the effectiveness of their car.

In contrast, the W09 was arguably not the very best car when the season started but the team was able to develop it consistently and during the latter half of the season, it was more often than not the best package out there.

‘Package’ being the key word, because that was what Mercedes boffins produced for their drivers – a complete and effective package with the crown jewel being that power unit.

I belong to the school of thought that Merc have had, and do have, horses on tap to release when and where required, not huge cavalcades but certainly the odd posse which serves them well when there is a need.

Did Ferrari power go AWOL or did Mercedes dial it up after they were trounced at Spa?

This year perhaps the gap was less, maybe there are increasingly less ‘extra’ horses left in the Silver Arrows stable, however there were still more than enough to wrap up the two titles.

Thus W09 chassis married to the M09 EQ Power+ 1.6 V6t, a package that produced the best Formula 1 car of 2018.

At the season finale in Abu Dhabi, after claiming pole number 11 with the #44 car, Hamilton said of the W09: “It was quite an emotional qualifying session for me because this is the last time I am going to be qualifying in this car. I know you guys watch it but the emotional roller coaster that I’ve gone through with this car. I’m probably the closest with this car than I have ever been with any cars in terms of emotional attachment.

“It has not been the easiest, it has been a struggle at times with her but it has been a real privilege to work with her this year. Today was so much fun to be able to go out there and express myself and push the car the way you want,” added the World Champion.

In the Formula 1.5 division, the Haas VF18 was a very good car, built on probably half the budget but enough to provide Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen with a car that was more often than not best of the rest.

The American team finished fifth in the championship standings, but without the waywardness of their oft errant Frenchman, they might have ended fourth. Grosjean’s red mist cost the team buckets of valuable points.

Magnussen was more consistent in the sister car, but at times I was left thinking that the VF18 was almost too good for its drivers.