F1 Safety cars

7 Mar, 2008 10:06am

Mercedes heads up F1 grid with its latest releases.

Here are the latest additions to this year's F1 grid - the Mercedes AMG SL63 and C63.

Rather than taking part in the races, these two tuned motors from the German manufacturer will be on safety car duty, ready for any on-track emergencies. Thanks to a host of modifications, the grand prix newcomers will go as hard as they look.

The SL63 will be the official safety car, deployed to slow down the F1 runners after an incident. Like other SL models the newcomer gets the all-new nose that was unveiled at this week's Geneva Motor Show. Unlike the standard car there is a deeper front bumper and a larger rear diffuser.

In an effort to keep up with some of the fastest cars on the planet AMG's engineers have given the roadster important tweaks. Thanks to an intensive weight saving regime that includes ditching the folding hard top mechanism and using carbon fibre for various body panels the SL now tips the scales at 1,750kg, an impressive reduction of 220kg.

Under the bonnet is the same 517bhp 6.3-litre motor found in the production version. However, a larger cooling system has been installed to cope with extreme temperatures and a new quad exhaust set-up allows the engine to breathe easier, and provide a thunderous soundtrack. Connected to a 7-speed semi-auto gearbox it accelerates the car from standstill to 60mph in 4.6 seconds.

Other enhancements include powerful composite brakes, an active rear differential and a fully adjustable suspension system that can be tailored to individual tracks.

Climb aboard the SL and you'll find a stripped-out cabin that features deep bucket seats and plenty of weight-saving carbon-fibre. A special feature is the twin screen TV set-up that allows occupants to watch a live feed of the race and so respond quicker to emergencies.

The finishing touches include the light bar on the roof and a rear number plate that incorporates an incredible 672 LEDs. They are lit up during bad weather, making it virtually impossible for following F1 drivers not to spot the safety car.

The C63 AMG estate that joins the SL on pit-lane standby will be used as a medical car. It gets the same braking and chassis modifications but features a slightly less powerful 450bhp version of the 6.3-litre V8 engine.

However, it will carry a host of life-saving kit including the official FIA Chief Medical Officer Dr Gary Hartstein. Even the driver Jacques Tropenat is a fully qualified doctor.

You'll be able to see the two newcomers in action at the opening round of the F1 season at Melbourne, Australia on 16 March. Although, if all goes well it should only be a brief debut!

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