Berthold Bouman, F1 correspondent
- Also stepped nose for 2012 Mercedes W03
- Mercedes hoping for strong 2012 season
- Drivers impressed by new Silver Arrows
This morning AMG Mercedes Petronas F1, as the official name of the team is, launched their 2012 contender, the Mercedes MGP W03, at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. The new car has unsurprisingly like all but one other 2012 designs a stepped nose to comply to the new regulations concerning the height of the nose of the car.
The new Silver Arrow already broke cover last Thursday when videos of the shakedown of the W03 at the Silverstone circuit emerged on YouTube, and those images clearly showed Mercedes had also opted for the same stepped nose as their 2012 rivals.
According to Mercedes the W03 project already started in May last year by the new strengthened technical team and has since then been tested on the simulator. The car has a lower core weight than the 2011 car and passed the mandatory FIA Formula One crash tests during the first week of January.
Mercedes is looking to make a major step forward this season, but the new car does not have any big technical surprises. Rival teams had speculated Mercedes purposely launched their car very late to hide possible technical novelties and prevent other teams from copying them, but the car looks fairly conservative and there are no visible innovations that could rock the paddock during the first test day in Barcelona.
The F1 W03 is an elegant interpretation of the current regulations
Team Principal Ross Brawn commented, “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.” About the stepped nose Brawn said, “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.”
The W03 is another step forward Brawn said, “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.”
As Mercedes only tested three days at Jerez they were allowed to make up one day and both drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg have already tested the new car last Sunday at Barcelona and they both were very positive about the MGP W03. Rosberg stated, “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.”
He was impressed with the new Silver Arrow, “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.”
Seven time World Champion Schumacher, who will test the car again today, was also positive, “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.”
According to Rosberg, the team now needs to develop the car during the eight full days of testing in Barcelona this and next month, “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 agreed, “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.” And he added, “I am eager to fight again, looking forward to the new season, and I can’t wait for it to begin.”
Our ultimate goal is to become regular race winners
Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Norbert Haug about the design process of the W03, “A lot of work has been done throughout the last year, not just to design the new car but also to build a technical organisation that is capable of delivering to its full potential, with consistency.”
Asked about his expectations for the 2012 season Haug replied, “Our ultimate goal is to become regular race winners and championship contenders, and so to write another chapter of success in the story of the Silver Arrows which began 78 years ago. Our target this year is to take another step forward on that road.”