The wait is almost over as the 2018 Formula 1 season will kick off this weekend with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. For the 23rd consecutive year, Mercedes-AMG will be in charge of providing the official Safety Car for the most important motorsport event of them all. The long-lasting tradition started back in 1996 with the C36 AMG, and now for 2018, the GT R is ready to claim the title for the most powerful F1 Safety Car of all time.
Armed with a biturbo 4.0-liter V8 engine packing 577 horsepower, the GT R follows the lesser GT S version used during the 2015 through 2017 seasons. Once again, behind the wheel of F1's official Safety Car will be Bernd Mayländer, who is very eager to drive what he describes as being his new company car:
"It is an absolute highlight in terms of driving dynamics and is one level higher up still than the AMG GT S of recent years. Of course, ideally the safety car should be deployed as rarely as possible – but when we have to safely bunch up the Formula 1 field and lead it around the track, we will be superbly equipped with the AMG GT R."
Compared to a standard GT R, the Safety Car version comes fitted with the optional Track Package encompassing ceramic brakes and a roll-over protection system. The supercar has also received an F1-specific livery and a roof-mounted light bar positioned on an air scoop made from carbon fiber and optimized in the wind tunnel to provide the best possible aerodynamic efficiency.
Stepping inside the cabin, Mercedes-AMG has fitted the special GT R with a pair of iPads, with the one on the left showing the live TV broadcast while the one on the right will show an animated display of where the cars are on the track and also the lap times.
Aside from dressing the 198-mph GT R in F1 Safety Car attire, Mercedes-AMG will also be in charge of supplying the Medical Car in the form of a C63 S Estate carrying up to three medics. The fast wagon will be in the hands of racing driver Alan van der Merwe joined by FIA F1 deputy medical delegate Dr Ian Roberts on the passenger seat.
In the back, one or two assistant medics chosen from a local hospital located near the track will be sitting on the bucket seats fitted with six-point seatbelts. Thanks to its spacious 490-liter trunk, there's plenty of room in the trunk of the C63 S Estate for a defibrillator, a respirator, and additional emergency equipment.
As a final note, the forthcoming 2018 F1 season will feature 21 race weekends and will come to an end on November 25th with the Abu Dhabi finale at Yas Marina.