Mercedes GP Launched W03

Mercedes has officially launched the new W03 in the pit lane at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The new car was unveiled by Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg ahead of the first day of the second test in Barcelona, and features a prominent step down from the front of the chassis and a thin nose as well as intricate front wing cascades. Mercedes opted to delay the launch of the car in order to give it the maximum possible development time, with ex-Ferrari designer Aldo Costa only starting work with the team in December.

The W03 covered 100km during a filming day at Silverstone last week, and added a further 200km in Barcelona on Sunday as the team had earned a private test day as a result of missing one day of the Jerez test.

Team principal Ross Brawn described the new car as "a clear step forward" over last year's W02.

"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," 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.

"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."

He added that many of the innovations on the new car could not be seen from the outside.

"We took a step back and it's now got a conventional wheelbase, many of the aspects are more conventional, but there's a lot of actual innovation under the skin of the car. It's taken more time perhaps with the extra organisation and extra strength to make sure that innovation is working well and is a genuine step forward."

And Brawn is confident the decision to launch the car one test later than its main rivals has paid off.

"We had a car that was mechanically complete some time ago and we've done a lot of work on rigs and fixtures to understand how the car behaves and how it performs," Brawn said. "For us, at least in that respect, this is probably the best prepared programme we've had going into the first race.

"The car's spent weeks on rigs and fixtures to characterise it and understand how it works and the aerodynamic group have been able to focus on just one specification - one package - for the first race rather than last year when we did a launch spec and an update. I think with the size of the team and the resources we had that was the best approach.

"We're still building the team and perhaps in the future we'll reconsider the approach we want to take, but for us, in the position we were in and the team we have that was definitely the best approach. I'm very comfortable with what's happened. If we were sat here with two inches of snow I'd be a bit worried, but I'm happy with the approach we've taken."



Photos: © Sutton Images, Mercedes and ESPNF1

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