Two specially prepared AMG high-performance cars will be on duty for the first time when the Grand Prix season kicks off in Melbourne, Australia this month.
The Safety Car, based on the SL 63 AMG, and the Medical Car, derived from the C 63 AMG Estate, have the task of ensuring maximum safety at all 18 Formula 1 races.
For the last 12 years AMG has provided the official F1 safety car, and since 1996 the medical car has carried AMG insignia.
Bespoke design for a key role
Bernd Mayländer, former Nürburgring 24-hour endurance race winner, pilots the safety car, and is tasked to go to ahead of the F1 field and safely guide the world's fastest racing drivers around the circuit.
Fast lap times are a must for the safety car, because otherwise the sensitive F1 engines would overheat - and their tyres and brakes would cool down excessively, rendering them ineffective.
The car Mayländer will be using for the 2008 F1 season has been tinkered with to ensure optimal performance in its vital role of guiding the F1 circus around the circuit as a precursor to restarts.
Powered by the venerable 6.2-litre AMG sourced V8 engine, power is rated at 386kW and 0-100km/h acceleration is penned as being no less than 4.6 seconds.
A special AMG exhaust system with larger pipe diameters and revised rear-silencers endows the AMG powered safety car with a strong, crowd pleasing soundtrack.
A key design imperative, especially in the Gran Prix races run at tropical latitudes, is sufficient cooling for the large capacity V8 engine. Subsequently additional coolers for engine oil, transmission oil, water and power steering have been fitted.
Three-stage ESP and rear-axle differential lock with 30 percent locking effect provides optimum traction in all weather conditions, and synergised with a newly developed thread chassis, ensures Mayländer can power on with confidence.
The front and rear axles feature 19-inch extra-light AMG forged light-alloy wheels, with a spoke design specifically designed to optimise airflow onto the brakes, which take a pounding around the forbidding circuits which make up the F1 venue calendar.
The front axle is fitted with six-piston fixed callipers and discs of size 390 x 36mm, while the rear axle features four-piston fixed callipers with brake discs of size 360 x 26mm.
AMG have produced the engine bonnet, front and rear aprons, front wings and luggage compartment lid from carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), in the interest of saving weight.
As Mayländer always does his job driving with the top up, it has been possible to dispense with all the mechanical and hydraulic components of the Vario roof. In all, 220kg has been shaved off the weight of the SL63 safety car, bring it in at 1750kg.
Aesthetically the safety car is distinguished from standard-production AMG SL63 roadsters by a newly designed front apron with larger cooling-air openings.
A prominent feature at the rear of the vehicle is the modified diffuser insert in the rear apron, which incorporates the active rear-axle cooling, this compensating for temperature peaks in the highly stressed differential housing.
The interior is adorned with AMG sports bucket seats featuring 4-point seatbelts, trim parts in real carbon fibre, black leather appointments and the AMG performance steering wheel with its 365mm steering wheel rim, flat underside and AMG aluminium shift paddles.
The centre console is equipped with two monitors for supervising the action on the racetrack, and the two-way radio system allows the crew of the Safety Car to remain in contact with the race management. A roll-over bar serves to increase both the safety of the occupants and also the stability of the vehicle.
The C63 AMG Estate, which acts as medical car following F1 cars on the first race lap, features near identical dynamic mechanics to the SL63 safety car, bar for the 6.2-litre V8 being in 336kW state of tune.
Wheels and tyre combinations are made up of 19-inch AMG mags shod with Pirelli rubber in 255/35mm guise up front and 285/30mm at the rear respectively.
The official F1 medical car is driven by Frenchman, Dr. Jacques Tropenat, who is a medic and amateur race driver. His co-driver is Dr. Gary Hartstein of Belgium, who is the official FIA Grand Prix chief medical officer.
With its unrivalled volume of 485 litres, the luggage compartment offers ample space for the full complement of emergency equipment, including defibrillator and respirator.
Both cars feature strobe-like LED flashlights at front and rear. Enhanced visibility in darkness or bad weather is ensured by the LED-illuminated number plate with either Safety Car or Medical Car lettering on the boot lid tailgate.
Replication for the road
Much of the AMG fettled engineering available to F1 support vehicles are available straight from the factory.
The AMG Performance Package for the SL 63 AMG includes, for instance, the 360mm composite disc brakes on the front axle; the rear-axle differential lock; the 19-inch AMG light-alloy forged wheels and the AMG performance steering wheel.
With respect to medical car the composite disc brakes on the front axle of size 360 x 36mm, rear-axle differential lock and 19-inch AMG light-alloy wheels are optionally available.