Mercedes AMG enters 17th season as Official F1™ Safety Car and Official F1™ Medical Car


Mercedes AMG enters 17th season as Official F1™ Safety Car and Official F1™ Medical Car

Affalterbach – Mercedes-AMG is set to feature prominently in the 2012 Formula 1 season: the opening race in Melbourne, Australia (16 – 18 March 2012) will not only witness the debut of the newly christened MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula 1 team, but also the return of the Official F1™ Safety Car and the Official F1™ […]

Affalterbach – Mercedes-AMG is set to feature prominently in the 2012 Formula 1 season: the opening race in Melbourne, Australia (16 – 18 March 2012) will not only witness the debut of the newly christened MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula 1 team, but also the return of the Official F1™ Safety Car and the Official F1™ Medical Car from Mercedes-AMG. The SLS AMG and C 63 AMG Estate ensure maximum safety in extreme conditions.

Safety Car Mercedes-Benz F1

The gullwing model, with its characteristic roof lights and distinctive FIA and F1 logos on its aluminium body, has been deployed in the role of official Safety Car for Formula 1 since 2010. As soon as Race Control considers that the safe progress of the race may be impeded, it sends the SLS AMG out onto the track. “Poor weather conditions or accidents are the main reasons for deploying the Safety Car,” according to Bernd Mayländer, driver of the Official F1™ Safety Car. “We remain on standby in the pits and receive the order to go out onto the track via radio. Then it’s a case of leading the field safely around the circuit until the dangerous situation has been dealt with.”

Safety Car Mercedes-Benz Formula 1

Bernd Mayländer has driven the Official F1™ Safety Car since 2000

The FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) has entrusted the task of driving the Safety Car to 40 year-old racer Bernd Mayländer since 2000. When the Formula 1 calendar permits, Mayländer, a native of Schorndorf, Germany also works as an instructor for the AMG Driving Academy and attends selected events as a Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador. Mayländer’s co-driver in the Safety Car is FIA associate Pete Tibbetts (45 years old, from Great Britain), who remains in permanent radio contact with Race Control. The SLS AMG Official F1™ Safety Car is also on call throughout the race weekend for the majority of the accompanying race series, such as the GP2 and GP3 Series and the Porsche Supercup.

A significant change in the 2012 season involves lapped vehicles during a Safety Car phase: they will be allowed to overtake the Safety Car after the Race Control has given the appropriate signal. By allowing them to gain their lap back, the natural race order of the cars will be restored, something which should allow for more equal opportunities when the race restarts.

Safety Car deployed twelve times in the 2011 Formula 1 season

In the 2011 Formula 1 season, the SLS AMG Official F1™ Safety Car was deployed twelve times, covering a total distance of 284.3 kilometres. At the Canadian Grand Prix in June 2011, there were no less than 5 Safety Car phases owing to extreme heavy rain and accidents. The SLS AMG covered some 32 laps, or 139.6 km, at the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit – a greater percentage than ever before in the history of Formula 1. At the Monaco Grand Prix there were two Safety Car phases, while the Grands Prix in Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Japan and Korea each had just one Safety Car phase. The absolute record for the deployment of the Safety Car in a season stands at 21 outings, a figure which was reached in 2010. The total distance covered by the car during that season was 452.3 km.

Technology based on the standard SLS AMG

Over the past few years, the SLS AMG has proved itself to be an ideal Safety Car. According to Bernd Mayländer: “Its low kerb weight, low centre of gravity and balanced weight distribution are combined with a powerful AMG V8 engine and dual clutch transmission in a transaxle arrangement – for me, as a racing driver, the SLS AMG impresses with outstanding balance and excellent driveability, even in difficult weather conditions.”

No technical changes have been made or weight-saving measures applied to the Official F1™ Safety Car. The engine, power train, suspension and braking system of the Safety Car are the same as those found in the standard production SLS AMG. The only exception is the newly developed exhaust – designed to provide an even more emotionally-charged sound experience, as a tribute to the Formula 1 fans both at the race track and those watching on TV.

The AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine achieves a peak output of 420 kW (571 hp) at 6800 rpm and a maximum torque of 650 Nm at 4750 rpm, enabling the gullwing model to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds. Fast lap times are a matter of course for the Official F1™ Safety Car, otherwise the Formula 1 cars’ tyres and brakes would cool down too quickly, while their engines could overheat.

C63 AMG Medical Car Formula 1

Maximum driving dynamics thanks to a unique vehicle concept

The SLS AMG’s outstanding driving dynamics come courtesy of its perfect sports car heritage: thanks to an aluminium spaceframe body, the Official F1™ Safety Car tips the scales at just 1620 kg (DIN kerb weight). And thanks again to the dry-sump lubrication system, a very low installation of the AMG V8 has been achieved, resulting in the vehicle’s low centre of gravity. The installed position of the engine behind the front axle, and the transaxle arrangement of the transmission on the rear axle, have a positive effect on the weight distribution, which is 47/53 percent (front/rear). The AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed sports transmission with dual-clutch technology enables short shifting times, while the integrated mechanical multi-disc differential lock, together with the 3-stage ESP®, ensures outstanding traction.

C63 AMG Medical Car

When it comes to the suspension, AMG has opted for an aluminium double-wishbone arrangement. Usually found in racing cars, this technology offers a number of benefits such as high cornering limits, precise turn-in ability, first-class agility and low mass inertia during fast changes in direction. Braking distances are minimised and resistance to fading is maximised, even when the vehicle is subject to typical race track loads, thanks to the high-performance AMG ceramic composite braking system. The SLS AMG also features weight-optimised 10-spoke forged wheels fitted with size 265/35 R 19 (front) and 295/30 R 20 (rear) tyres.

Aerodynamically optimised roof light bar incorporating LED technology

The major distinguishing visual feature between the standard production SLS AMG and the Official F1™ Safety Car is the roof light bar. It boasts an aerodynamically efficient profile and sits on a carbon-fibre hood whose special shape ensures optimum airflow over the rear aerofoil, which pops up at speeds above 120 km/h. All of the bar’s light functions are handled by LEDs which offer a fast response time and low power consumption.

  • Green: the two centrally positioned green lights on the front and rear are lit up when the gullwing model joins the field at the start of a Safety Car phase. Permanent green is the signal for all Formula 1 drivers to overtake the Safety Car.
  • Orange: as soon as the Safety Car has positioned itself in front of all of the Formula 1 racing cars, the green LEDs are switched off and the orange LEDs are switched on. The flashing orange lights on the outer ends of the bar indicate that no overtaking whatsoever is allowed.

The roof light bar also incorporates a TV camera, and a second camera located next to the rear number plate allows the driver and co-driver to keep an eye on the Formula 1 cars behind via a monitor in the cockpit. The special number plate on the rear, with “Safety Car” lettering and 700 green LEDs, provides additional safety in darkness or wet weather. Another important feature is the stroboscopic lights in the headlamps and tail lights. They are activated permanently and provide a general signalling function while the Safety Car is being deployed.

Interior featuring special communication tools

Just as with the exterior and the technology, the interior of the Safety Car is not much different from that of the standard production model. Anyone opening the gullwing doors will discover two AMG sports bucket seats with black leather upholstery. They are also available as an option for the standard SLS AMG and provide optimum lateral support. Six-point seat belts also ensure optimum safety for the vehicle’s occupants.

On the right side of the AMG DRIVE UNIT there are four coloured buttons for controlling the various light functions, along with the signal horn, which for safety reasons is activated when the car is entering and leaving the pit lane. The centre console is also finished in carbon-fibre, as are other areas of interior trim. The AMG Performance steering wheel in leather/Alcantara has a specially contoured grip area, a high-grade metal insert and a 370 mm-diameter rim with a flattened lower section. The seven gears of the dual-clutch transmission are changed using the two high-grade metal shift paddles.

Two central monitors in the cockpit are used to monitor the progress of the race. To the left and right of the lower monitor are the controls for the radio system, which allows Bernd Mayländer and Pete Tibbetts to communicate with Race Control as well as with each other. A second interior mirror lets the co-driver keep an eye on the Formula 1 cars behind. Meanwhile, the “Marshalling System” is integrated into the central display on the instrument cluster and in the lid of the glove compartment: here the driver and co-driver can see exactly the same signals as the Formula 1 drivers in their cockpits.

For instance, the various LEDs indicate when yellow or green flags are being waved. LEDs indicating the status of the roof light bar, along with an on-board camera angled towards Bernd Mayländer and Pete Tibbetts, are mounted at the front end of the dashboard.

C 63 AMG Estate is once again the Official F1™ Medical Car

To accompany the SLS AMG Official F1™ Safety Car in the 2012 season, Mercedes-AMG is once again also providing the Official F1™ Medical Car. As in the previous years from 2008 to 2011, the C 63 AMG Estate will be responsible for ensuring a rapid emergency response in the event of an accident. The Medical Car also follows the Formula 1 field during the initial lap, when the racing cars are still bunched extremely closely together during this critical phase of the race.

Just like the SLS AMG, the C 63 AMG Estate is ideally equipped to provide outstanding driving dynamics. The AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine includes the AMG Performance package and produces 358 kW (487 hp). The AMG engine specialists succeeded in achieving the extra 22 kW (30 hp) compared with the standard variant thanks to a technology transfer from the SLS AMG: the forged pistons, connecting rods and lightweight crankshaft have been adopted from the drive system of the gullwing model. The lower inertia of the components, which are three kilograms lighter, allows the naturally aspirated eight-cylinder engine to rev freely and respond with even more agility. Distinguishing features of the AMG Performance package include the variable intake manifold, which lurks beneath the bonnet in a titanium grey paint finish. Available as an optional extra for any C 63 AMG, it helps to accelerate the vehicle from zero to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds (Estate: 4.5 s). The power of the Official F1™ Medical Car is transferred via the standard AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission, with wet start-up clutch, four driving modes, a double-declutch and a RACE START function.

Outstanding driving dynamics are also ensured by the adjustable coil-over suspension, the AMG light-alloy wheels, painted in matt black with high-sheen rims and fitted with size 235/35 R 19 (front) and 255/30 R 19 (rear) tyres, the differential lock and the 3-stage ESP®. Maximum durability is provided by the optimised coolant, engine oil, transmission fluid and power steering fluid cooling. Invisibly but unmistakably, the characteristic AMG V8 sound is emitted from the special rear silencers of the AMG sports exhaust system.

Visually, the Medical Car is similar to the Safety Car: the light bar on the roof, the FIA and F1‑logos, the stroboscopic LED lights at the front and rear, and the rear number plate illuminated with LEDs and with “Medical Car” lettering, differentiate the special Estate model from the standard production vehicle. To ensure the best possible airflow to the radiator, the AMG front apron also has larger intake openings and side air vents.

Plenty of space in the boot for emergency equipment

The Official F1™ Medical Car is driven by racing driver Alan van der Merwe (32 years old, from South Africa); his co-driver is the official FIA Grand Prix Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Hartstein (57 years old, from Belgium). Two assisting medical experts from a specially selected clinic near the race track sit in the rear. Four AMG sports bucket seats with six-point seat belts, two monitors integrated into the centre console for monitoring the race and a radio set for communicating with Race Control distinguish the interior of the Official F1™ Medical Car from that of the standard production C 63 AMG Estate. There is plenty of space for all of the emergency equipment – including a defibrillator and respiration apparatus – in the 485-litre luggage area of the C 63 AMG Estate.

AMG Performance Studio responsible for development

The development, track-testing and configuration of the two Official F1™ Safety Cars and the two Official F1™ Medical Cars – in both cases, there is one emergency vehicle and one replacement vehicle – are carried out by the specialists from the AMG Performance Studio in close collaboration with the test team for AMG overall vehicle development. This involves drawing on over 40 years of motorsport know-how, as well as a wealth of experience in the design of high-performance sports cars. Numerous test sessions were conducted on various race tracks in order to tune the suspension and verify all of the systems and components. Two highly-qualified AMG technicians are also on hand to take responsibility for the deployment of the Safety Car and Medical Car at all Formula 1 races in the 2012 season.

AMG has provided the Safety Cars and Medical Cars for 16 years

AMG has extensive experience in the design, development and deployment of the Official F1™ Safety Car and Official F1™ Medical Car. The Affalterbach-based company has been active in the top echelons of international motorsport since 1996.

All AMG Safety Cars at a glance

  • 1996: C 36 AMG (W 202) from 1997: CLK 55 AMG (C 208)
  • 2000: CL 55 AMG (C 215) from 2001: SL 55 AMG (R 230)
  • 2003: CLK 55 AMG (C 209) from 2004: SLK 55 AMG (R 171)
  • from 2006: CLK 63 AMG (C 209) from 2008: SL 63 AMG (R 230)
  • since 2010: SLS AMG (C 197)

All AMG Medical Cars at a glance

  • 1996: C 36 AMG (W 202)
  • 1997: C 36 AMG (W 202); E 60 AMG (W 210)
  • from 1998: C 55 AMG Estate (S 202)
  • from 2001: C 32 AMG Estate (S 203)
  • from 2004: C 55 AMG Estate (S 203)
  • since 2008: C 63 AMG Estate (S 204)

As early as 1984, an AMG E-Class Coupé with a V8 engine was occasionally used as the Medical Car. The activities of Mercedes-AMG are also evidence of Mercedes-Benz’s longstanding commitment to Formula 1.

Gerald Ferreira

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Published : Sunday March 18, 2012

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