How is an F1 car born? Mercedes special before W11's first run

May 05, 2020

Lewis Hamilton has been driving F1's fastest car for six years. But how much work goes in to delivering that beast? And how long does it take to build? Sky F1's Ted Kravitz finds out the answers!

Ted was given exclusive access by F1's six-time world champions Mercedes the night before their new-for-2020 W11 hit the track for the first time at Silverstone, with esteemed technical director James Allison talking through how the car, which shone at pre-season testing, was born.

Watch the full feature by clicking play above.

"It started in November, December of 2018," explained Allison in February in a Sky F1 special, which was part of our Australian GP feature list.

"There would have been the chief designer looking at it, there would have been a couple of his leftenants in the concept group, their equivalents in the power unit company. So maybe five or six people."

The work then really stepped up in the back-end of the 2019 season. The engine and transmission were the first things fired up and ready to go, "running well before Christmas", with the car then carefully constructed together before its debut outing.

While Allison admitted there was still a "furious amount of activity going on" before Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas' first runs in a Silverstone shakedown, it was nothing compared to F1 in the past.

"There was a time when all this stuff would get bolted together for the first time the night before winter testing," said Allison. "That's why people only tended to do 50 kilometres on [the first days of testing] back in the day."

Of course, Mercedes hit the ground running at 2020 pre-season testing, once again establishing themselves as the team to beat for the season before its delay. But as Allison explained, just bringing a car into existence gives the Silver Arrows immense joy.

"For all the people who work on that, this getting on towards half a year of intense pressure and worry, and stress, with a huge pay-off at the end."

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