How Mercedes ambition produced the fastest F1 car ever

Pushed harder than ever by Ferrari last season, Mercedes dug deeper. The result was the fastest F1 car ever – as demonstrated by Lewis Hamilton’s record-breaking lap of Monza. Now Mercedes’ designers open up to Stuart Codling and Alex Kalinauckas about the sheer scale of the task…

264.362km/h. That’s 164.267mph for those who like to keep it imperial. Formula 1 cars travel faster in a straight line, but that’s only part of the picture: the true measure of a car’s performance is how much speed it can carry through the dips, climbs and curves of a full lap.

On 5 September 2020, Lewis Hamilton’s qualifying lap of Monza for the Italian Grand Prix – 1m18.887s, 264.362km/h – set pole position and established the Mercedes W11 as the fastest grand prix car of all time. All this after the FIA had tried to put the brakes on the W11’s dominance by banning the use of special engine modes during qualifying – because the W11 had more tricks up its proverbial sleeves.

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