Mercedes finally launched their 2012 challenger – the MGP W03 – this morning in Barcelona, just minutes before the second pre-season test got underway.
The team have beaten only Marussia and HRT in the timing of their car launch, with most other teams unveiling their new cars before the start of the first pre-season test a fortnight ago.
Before taking to the track at the Circuit de Catalunya today, the new Mercedes has already been out on circuit in the hands of its two drivers. Both Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg took part in a filming day at Silverstone last Thursday, and drove in a private test session at Barcelona on Sunday.
Like most of the other cars, the MGP W03 features the now-familiar stepped-nose design.
“The F1 W03 is a car that I believe, and hope, our team can be proud of, and which will deliver the on-track results that everybody has worked so hard to achieve,” said Team Principal Ross Brawn. “Notwithstanding the distinctive nose design, which is certainly an acquired taste, the F1 W03 is an elegant interpretation of the current regulations, and a clear step forward over its predecessor in terms of detail design and sophistication. Last year, we produced a very bold car and, although its more radical elements didn’t always deliver the results we had hoped for, the experience we gained has been invaluable to the design of the 2012 car.
“The F1 W03 is also a more integrated package, which reflects the ever-strengthening ties between our technical teams in Brackley and Brixworth, and demonstrates that our Silver Arrows works team is taking the next step forward in terms of on-track performance.”
Rosberg, who was first in the car at the Silverstone filming, commented: “We have had a good start to our 2012 testing programme, and it was a great feeling to drive the first laps in the new F1 W03. The car looks good, and is very nicely packaged under the bodywork – all the parts are in harmony, which reflects how well the different departments of our team are working together. From the beginning of our running, we have been able to focus on understanding the car and making good progress with our test programme. It will be very interesting to learn more about where we stand in the next few weeks.”
Schumacher was in the car all day today, completing 51 laps. At the launch this morning, the seven-time world champion explained how special the experience driving a new F1 car is. “I have done quite a few roll-outs and launches of new cars, but even after all these years, I must say it still feels special,” said the German. “Days like this are precious moments, as they are always filled with hope and anticipation. Already last week, when we were driving the F1 W03 for the very first time, it instantly gave us good feedback and sensations. Starting today, we will work intensively to make it a competitive runner.
“Obviously, we will only see over the next couple of weeks how big the step is that we have made, but I can say already that the guys and girls back in the factories at Brackley and Brixworth were brilliant in putting in so much effort, and we can only say a big thank you them. I know which reward they would like, and we will definitely try to deliver it. For my part, I am eager to fight again, looking forward to the new season, and I can’t wait for it to begin.”
Mercedes also took the opportunity to give the public a first glimpse of a new high-performance roadster, the Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG.