Mercedes-AMG is set to feature prominently in the 2012 Formula 1 season: the opening race in Melbourne 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.
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."
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 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.