Mercedes has launched the car Lewis Hamilton will attempt to defend his Formula One world title with this year.
The first images of the new W12 were released by Mercedes on Tuesday morning ahead of a launch event streamed live from the team’s new race bays at its factory in Brackley.
The car features a tweaked livery, retaining the predominantly black colour scheme chosen last year to make a stand against racism while featuring more of Mercedes’ traditional silver at the rear.
The star pattern on the engine cover, which has featured on the last three cars, has been replaced with AMG logos, underlining the stronger tie Mercedes is hoping to establish between its performance road car brand and its F1 team.
To comply with cost-saving regulations, the car is largely based on last year’s W11 chassis, although the aerodynamic surfaces have been changed to meet new regulations aimed at cutting downforce.
However, the car released in the images is expected to evolve significantly ahead of its first track outing on March 12 at pre-season testing in Bahrain.
Mercedes opted against declaring which areas of the car it has made structural changes too, which is allowed under the FIA’s development token system.
“What’s carried over will look different from team to team, because the rules didn’t require you to carry over the same things,” technical director James Allison said. “The rules freeze a large chunk of the car, but then give each team two tokens to spend on changing their car.
“Along with the tokens comes a shopping list showing how many tokens are required for each change. How teams decided what to use their tokens on was entirely up to them.
“In addition, there are some parts of the car that you can change token-free, for example the Power Unit, the cooling systems, the suspension and of course all of the aerodynamic surfaces.
“We have spent our tokens, but we won’t reveal how we used them just yet. That’ll become clear in good time. Once the racing gets underway, pretty much everything under the skin of the car must then be frozen for the entire year.”
The success of the car will determine whether Hamilton has a shot at winning a record eighth drivers’ title this year.
Hamilton matched Michael Schumacher’s record of seven last year and surpassed the German’s race win count, but could forge his own space in F1’s record books with an eighth title in 2021.
“The launch day of a new car is always a really exciting one,” Hamilton said. “It’s great to reveal to the world the result of everyone’s hard work at the factories and to see some of my team-mates in person, which has been so rare during the past year.
“I’ve been in touch with the engineers through the winter, keeping track of their preparations as I prepare myself for the season ahead. The excitement has been building and building, so now I just can’t wait to get out on track in the W12.”