Mercedes reveals the most powerful official F1 Safety Car ever
Mercedes is a brand synonymous with Formula One. Not only has it won every title available for the last four years and crowned two separate drivers as world champion, it's also part of the fabric of the sport itself.
Every year since 1996, Mercedes has supplied official course vehicles to the series. These include the Safety Car, which heads out in inclement conditions to assess the track condition and leads the racers round in case of a serious incident.
See also: Guide to the 2018 Formula One cars
The Safety Car itself has to be fast, in order to keep the F1 cars running quickly enough to keep heat in their tyres and brakes, and drive cooling air through the radiators. With that in mind, every Mercedes Safety Car to date has come from the company's performance specialist AMG. Mercedes is bringing a new car to do the job this year, and says it's the most powerful and fastest ever to do the job.
With 576bhp from a 4-litre biturbo V8, and a top speed of 198mph, the Mercedes-AMG GT R is the perfect car for the task. It's based on the GT R road car which itself uses technology derived from the AMG GT GT3 racing car. Although no match for the hybrid F1 racers, the GT R Safety Car features a wider track, active aerodynamics and a large rear wing and diffuser to help keep the cornering speeds high, but safe for the official driver, Bernd Maylander.
The GT R has very few modifications from standard road form. It features the AMG Track Package with ceramic brakes and a roll-over protection system. Otherwise the major difference is the FIA light bar, that alerts drivers of the current status.
In addition to the Safety Car, Mercedes-AMG also supplies the course Medical Car. For this year, this will be the 503bhp Mercedes-AMG C63 S Estate. Driven by racing driver Alan van der Merwe, the medical car carries F1's medical delegate Dr. Ian Roberts and one or two additional medics. The 490-litre boot carries emergency medical equipment, including a defibrillator and respirator, to ensure rapid care for any immediate injuries before an ambulance crew can attend, if necessary.
Both cars make their debut at the Australian Grand Prix weekend, starting on March 23rd.
By Andrew Evans