Meet Formula One's New Safety Car, The Mercedes AMG GTR
The new Formula One season is now well and truly upon us as the first races come thick and fast. Ferrari may well have been the early season pace-setters but there’s one car that is always destined to be out front no matter what, the Formula One safety car. The new season gives us a first glance at everything new for F1 2018. Be that new drivers, new team colours or new cars, a new season provides a fresh start for teams and fans alike. Another new edition for this season see’s Mercedes Benz’s mighty AMG GTR become the official Formula One Safety car. Following on off the back of the AMG GT, SLS and SL65 AMG that came before it, Mercedes Benz has a long-standing history with the sport in supplying Formula Ones governing body, the FIA, with course cars for over 20 years. This year's iteration is an even more extreme variant than the standard road car and features some heavy modifications. Let’s take a look at some of these below. Whilst in body, if you remove the decals and lights, this thing looks very much like the road car, but this is where the similarities stop. The basis of this car is very much born out of Mercedes’ GT racing pedigree as many of the parts in the GTR come from the more hardcore AMG GTR GT3 race car. Under the bonnet is a 4.0-litre V8 bi-turbo engine which is similar to the standard AMG GT, however, this unit has been fettled to produce a staggering 577 bhp, which translates to a standstill to 62 mph time of 3.6 seconds and an ultimate top speed of 197 mph. To make the most of this savage power, the car’s body features finely tuned active aerodynamics to ensure maximum aero efficiency, dependent on the cars state of braking or acceleration. The interior is what can only be described as a technical masterpiece, and whilst the cabin features all the safety equipment you’d expect from a finely tuned track car including bucket seats, roll cage and multi-point safety harnesses there are a plethora of displays to relay information to the car's occupants. This information is displayed on two iPads so that the safety car driver, ex-racer Bernd Maylander, has access to a live TV feed, timing screens and relative track position of the F1 cars around him. All of this information supplied in an effort to provide a clear overview of live Grand Prix conditions. With the introduction of new track procedures and a higher level of safety, the role of the safety car may have become reduced over previous years, but one thing is for certain when it is needed, it is one car that will always feature at the sharp end of the grid.