MERCEDES GP’s new car will allow the Brackley-based team to take “the next step forward” in on-track performance, according to boss Ross Brawn.
The squad revealed the 2012 Silver Arrow, the F1 W03, to the public at the first day of the second Formula 1 test in Barcelona yesterday, several weeks later than most of the other teams making up the 2012 grid.
Described by the team as “better packaged”, lighter and more efficient, the design includes the distinctive stepped-nose that has been adopted by most of the teams for the new season, but has proved controversial with fans and the media, many of whom have branded it “ugly”.
Team principal Brawn acknowledged potential criticism over the aesthetics of the new car, but said he believed it would enable the team to make a step forward on track in 2012.
He said: “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 everybody has worked so hard to achieve.
“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 our Silver Arrows works team is taking the next step forward in terms of on-track performance.”
Prior to unveiling the car yesterday, the team put it through simulation testing at its technical bases in Brackley and Brixworth, followed by a filming day limited to 100km at Silverstone last week, and a private test day in Barcelona on Sunday.
Driver Nico Rosberg was the first to get behind the wheel.
He said: “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.”
Speaking ahead of the first day of the Barcelona test yesterday, F1 veteran Michael Schumacher also praised the new car.
He said: “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. 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 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 to 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.”