Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the new AMG Safety and Medical cars that will stand watch over every F1 race this season. The CLK Safety Car of last year has been retired, and in its place is a modified SL 63 AMG. Beyond the usual Safety Car markings and lighting, this 525-horsepower SL sports a front fascia that's modified to allow for extra cooling requirements, composite brakes, carbon fiber body panels, as well as a redesigned rear diffuser insert. Since the SL won't be used for open-top cruising, the entire top mechanism has been ditched, and its roof remains in the upright position. That, plus additional weight reduction measures, shave a hefty 485 pounds (220 kilos) off the AMG SL, making it lighter than the production version even when you take the emergency lighting, communications gear, and other Safety Car-specific mods into account.
The Safety Car will be joined by the 457-horsepower C63 AMG Estate Medical Car. The Medical Car carries a team of four and a full suite of emergency equipment as it shadows the competitors on Lap 1 of each race (generally the diciest) and is intended to be the first vehicle on scene in the event of an accident. Like the SL63 Safety Car, the Medical Car wears a revised front fascia and rear diffuser, both of which are required for the car to meet its enhanced cooling needs. It too uses the AMG Performance Braking System, with composite brakes providing maximum stopping power. As you'll see in the attached gallery, both cars feature a pair of monitors in the instrument panel that allow the safety and medical teams to follow the race from inside the vehicles so they can be ready to move the moment an incident occurs. Look for both machines next weekend as the 2008 F1 campaign kicks off in Australia.