Feb.4 (GMM) Having shown darkly-lit 'sneak preview' images on its website that triggered a server meltdown, and scheduling a launch event for the afternoon, photographers at Jerez scrambled on Monday morning to take the first unofficial shots of Mercedes' new W04.

At the same time, Lewis Hamilton was being filmed for promotional purposes trackside, as he captured Nico Rosberg's debut laps on a Blackberry mobile phone -- a gratuitous plug for the team's new on-car sponsor.

His 2013 teammate, Rosberg, was lapping on the day before official test action begins, after Mercedes booked the Spanish test circuit for a filming day.

Michael Schmidt, the correspondent for the specialist German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, was one of those at Jerez getting an early first glimpse at the silver car.

"The first impression is disappointing," he said.

"At first glance the car seems quite conservative, with long and relatively crude sidepods.

"With a first look we could not see any major innovations."

Meanwhile, Germany's Sport Bild is reporting that Michael Schumacher has been signed up by Mercedes parent Daimler as a brand ambassador.