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Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Feb 2012   |  10:16 am GMT  |  59 comments

Mercedes this morning officially unveiled its 2012 car, with team principal Ross Brawn describing it as “detailed and sophisticated” and highlighting the very close integration of the AMG engine and chassis departments in Brixworth and Brackley as key to the progress the team has made.

“We’ve set our objectives over the winter and we’ve met most of them,” said Brawn, who admits that he has only two ambitions left in motorsport: to see Michael Schumacher take a 92nd Grand Prix win and to see Nico Rosberg win his first.

The W03 got down to intensive testing alongside its peers following two days of solo shakedown testing at Silverstone and Barcelona. The car has already covered over 400 kilometres over the two days. Mercedes were able to run on Sunday in Barcelona because they saved a day’s testing from the first Jerez test.


Nineteen days after McLaren took the covers off its car, Mercedes has launched the car F1 has been waiting to see. Mercedes took the odd one out step of taking extra time to develop the car, so they could work on the Melbourne specification car for longer. In the mean time they issued several “teaser” images and videos to whet the appetite. It has got everyone in F1 wondering, “What’s special about this car?”

According to Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug, there is nothing visible which takes the game on to a new level, but there are some “intelligent solutions” under the skin.

That said, Haug is playing down the significance of the late launch and of the car’s potential to fight for the championship, saying that “to compete with the big teams we need other development. To become winners takes time. Even Red Bull took five years to get their first win. We’re trying to do it sooner.”

This rather ignores the fact that Mercedes acquired the team from Brawn in 2009 when it had just won both the drivers’ and constructor’s world championships. But of course, the team had also undergone a dramatic staff reduction programme at the same time, leaving it unable to compete with Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari. Mercedes has been carefully putting in place key engineers like Geoff Willis, Bob Bell and Aldo Costa since then, whilst “rigidly observing the Resource Restriction Agreement” as Haug pointed out.

According to the team, “The F1 W03 project was begun in May 2011 and is the first full car produced by a technical team that was strengthened last year with recruitments at every level of the organisation. The new car, which is composed of some 4500 parts compared to 4300 parts in 2011, has nevertheless achieved a lower core weight than its predecessor, is better packaged and more efficient.”

Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg were on hand at the launch, Rosberg freshly committed long term to the team, Schumacher taking it a year at a time at the ripe old age of 43.

“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,” said Schumacher, who is driving the car today in Barcelona. “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.”

I’m on my way out to Barcelona later today to take a closer look at this car and the rest of the 2012 F1 field.

Meanwhile, check out this behind the scenes video with new BBC technical analyst Gary Anderson at the Silverstone shakedown analysing the design and chatting with Brawn and Schumacher. Click HERE

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59 Comments
  1. Dan Orsino says:

    NH sounds like they’re onto something ….

    As for Jaime Alg I really hope he does well just to prove that Matechitz guy wrong!

  2. The Rock says:

    Looks fast. Race winner. Surely.

    1. Sebee says:

      If you look at Vettel’s Wiki entry, it discusses how alike he and Schumi’s paths have been.

      Vettel must win his third to finally split his path away from the Schumi mold. I have little doubt that will happen this year. But it would be nice if Schumi could make it a challange.

  3. John tsoutis says:

    The nose of the new Merc seems much smaller and lower than the competition, I wonder if there is an innovation to maximize the airflow under the car feeding the floor? You want the nose as high as possible to maximize the airflow feeding the next step and the floor. An interesting interpretation of the rules. Any idea James why the difference?

  4. Tom in adelaide says:

    Looks almost bowed through the middle. Hope it’s quick.

  5. Eduan says:

    Let’s see how the first day goes….. I hope it will bring Schumacher up the field so he can mix it with the big boys!

  6. WoZ says:

    Ross Brawn is a champ! His 2 desires of seeing Schumacher win his 92nd GP and Nico to win his first speaks volumes to his character and attitude towards the team.

    I truly hope it’s a car capable of achieving his goals.

  7. Alan Evans says:

    Another excellent Gary Anderson video – have high hopes for the BBC’s coverage this year.

    James – will 5Live have be a season preview “Chequered Flag” podcast?

      1. JohnBt says:

        James, I wished “Chequered Flag’ had more podcasts before the season begins and throw in testing reviews too. That’ll be wonderful.

    1. Dave Roberts says:

      I have succumbed to having Sky HD as the cheapest way to get F1 on Sky because the thought of waiting for highlights filled me with dread. Now having seen the new Sky website and having an insight into their intentions I think with the BBC continuing to produce their brilliant coverage this year is going to be awesome.

  8. Chris says:

    Honestly can’t see them challenging the big three. I also don’t understand their logic for launching so late, it’s not like the other teams that have launched, put miles on their cars, and now put their feet up and stopped thinking about improving things is it? Difference now is the other teams have more miles at different circuits to judge things.

    1. Habib says:

      Barc is a truer test of how the cars aero performs and for this objective it is a far superior circuit to jerez. I dont dont think Merc lost out on anything by not running at Jerez with the new car. The other teams would’nt have taken more than tyre data and inital car performance away from the first test.

    2. Kevin Green says:

      Are you not forgetting that the engine for 1 is getting well tested by its customers for 1?? and how much has changed in relation to the rest of the drive train? if relatively little then why risk showing there hand too early with the Aero if they feel it is that good???

      1. Kevin Green says:

        Ignore that i have just read the bit about 200 more components than last yrs car, staggering but must be confident!

    3. AuraF1 says:

      I suppose it worked for red bull in the past with their later starts. I think Mercedes best hope is actually ferrari falling further behind. I can’t see Red Bull or McLaren with a clunker this year.

    4. veeru says:

      it makes sense right.
      testing a “proper car” is way more efficient than testing a car like “2012 ferrari”

      look at ferrari now…they are scratching their heads to understand the monster they have built…

    5. Wu says:

      Given their history at understanding their cars, it’s actually very prudent of them to test out new Pirellis on the old car they know and understand.

      I never really believed Merc had anything super original on this new car, but 2 weeks extra in the wind tunnel doesn’t hurt while they work on understanding the tyres.

      Prudance shows their lack of confidence, but it’s better to be prudent than charge in head first and spend the rest of testing scratching their heads.
      Let’s also not forget that these tests will guide the first bits of developments for the car they have to sort out before first European GP. They really don’t need going the wrong way in development.

      1. Kevin Green says:

        There sandbagging as are Ferrari still, there’s absolutely no doubt the most impressive team in relation to where they were so far is Force India.

  9. Luca says:

    best looking one out of the fuglie cars so far… will be interesting to see how they change prior to the green lights.

  10. SP says:

    I’ve seen some overhead shots of the car and the rear end look very tidy and neat! Vettel may have a name for it ;)

    Oh and does anyone else think the wheelbase is longer than usual?

    Would be good to see shots of each car in comparison from different angles. I saw a set of photos on a forum from the Jerez test. All were taken from more or less the same angle and place from a photographer. Nose heights varied but I couldnt help but notice how high the Mclaren drivers are sat compared to the others.

    1. Steve says:

      formula1.com has a set of very good pictures

    2. Justin says:

      McLaren’s whole chassis is lower, the seating position is the same, the car is just lower around them.

    3. AuraF1 says:

      That’s strange as Jenson Button commented that this McLaren had him sat the lowest of his career and he liked the unusually low position. Wonder if it’s a trick of the angle with the different chassis design?

      1. anonyous says:

        Surprisingly I have heard that Ferrari have followed Alonso’s request for a more upright position. Can anyone confirm?

      2. James Allen says:

        That is my understanding

  11. Jacob says:

    Hope to see a competitive Mercedes challenging Red Bull, ferrari and Mclaren this year – could be one hell of a season in store.

  12. hero_was_senna says:

    I find it fascinating that Brawn’s 2 ambitions are to see his drivers win a race each.
    He’s not thinking about the championship at all, maybe reading between the lines, he knows he can’t compete, with Mercedes adhering so strictly to the RRA.
    I remember the Mclaren Merc SLR, that Mercedes changed so much from it’s original design because it didn’t comply with what Mercedes ethos was about.

    One thing I don’t remember reading anywhere else, did the other teams shake their cars down privately or was it at Jerez. I know Force India did shakedown laps at Silverstone and Lotus at Jerez, but what about Red Bull, Mclaren and Ferrari?

    1. Kevin Green says:

      If your not winning races you ain’t winning championships anyway but if you are winning races you are there or there about’s no???

  13. Spyros says:

    Good luck to them. And actually, that stepped nose isn’t as sharp as the spyshot led us to believe…

    By bring it out late? It seems odd, but that is what everyone thought when McLaren took its time to reveal their new car in ’98, the first year of narrow wheel bases and grooved tyres.

    Everyone that year launched their cars incredibly early. McLaren was simply putting miles on its old car, using the new tyres, launching the ’98 car just weeks before the first race — in which, they were two seconds a lap faster than everyone else.

  14. goferet says:

    Brawn, who admits that he has only two ambitions left in motorsport: to see Michael Schumacher take a 92nd Grand Prix win and to see Nico Rosberg win his first.
    ————————————————–

    Uh, does this mean Brawn has lost his mojo?

    Seems like it to me, he must have glanced at the competition & immediately felt tied of everything to do with formula 1 and the fact he’s only ambition is to win two races & not a bucket load of those let alone championships, this tells me what Nobert Haug says is true, the Mercedes is off the pace again and all the suits in Berlin are hoping for a fluke win (most likely in the rain) to show the shareholders were their money was ploughed before pulling the plug as early as 2015 or there abouts.

    Me thinks there won’t be no 92nd win for Schumi nor a first win for Rosberg and they most likely to spend the entire season fighting Lotus for positions 7th and 8th mainly due to the German curse i.e. German drivers driving for a German constructor is a big No-No if you’re to avoid disappointment!

    P.s.

    What’s the point of an official launch when we have already seen the car —> Several times

    1. Mo kahn says:

      I would like to see Michael win 100 GPs and Sachin Tendulkar score 100 centuries in Cricket.

      Feats kinda these though not impossible happen once a lifetime :)

      1. Jon W says:

        Couldn’t agree more – along with Valentino Rossi, Seb Loeb, Kelly Slater, Lance Armstrong, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (and I’m sure there are others) we’ve been very fortunate to witness genius at work in several different spheres at the same time.

      2. Kevin Green says:

        For me its been Loeb that’s been the stand out talent looking across all sports/motorsports , Rossi should have retired a couple seasons back to mask the margin of talent between himself and Lorenzo who i feel is better than Rossi ever was.

  15. F1racer says:

    Hope Mercedes have pulled together to bring out a competitive car.

    It might be Schumacher last season in F1, if so, it will nice to see him bow out in style challenging for podiums or a win.

    Will Nico long awaited first race win come this season?

    Brawn has set his ambitions right for his boys.

  16. Rick says:

    James, Mercedes seems to be the only team to give their drivers one day on and one day off during the tests vs. the other teams that always give each driver two days in a row. The Mercedes approach doesn’t seem logical to me, and I beleve they did the same last year. Any idea why?

    1. James Allen says:

      No. I’ll find out, good question

      1. brendan says:

        surely so they can both give feedback on progress as its going.

        the down side is if ur 2 drivers have totally different set up styles. you could just end up going round in circles.

        if you do 2 days on 2 days off like other teams, you can spread that programme over the 2 days.

        its swings and roundabouts.

    2. Jamesy says:

      I’m guessing it gives each driver a free day to analys the data and for the other driver to test solutions/set-ups tested the previous day.
      This way they can easily find out if both drivers are getting the same feeling from the car while they are both at the track.

  17. John says:

    “the very close integration of the AMG engine and chassis departments in Brixworth and Brackley as key to the progress the team has made”

    strange! It took days rather than years to mate the Brawn (Honda) car and the Mercedes engine creating a championship winning car. How come the same people still have to aim at full integration? The Brawn arrived at the last test and was the fastest car at its first attempt – when all of the other teams had already honed their fully integrated designs over 3 previous test sessions.

    It does make you wonder how the Brawn would have performed with a Honda engine – especially as Ilmor made many Honda branded engines for other series (I’m not sure how that fitted with Honda badged F1 engines).

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s things like the exhausts blowing etc that they’re talking about

    2. anonyous says:

      You can bet that the Brawn GP car has been compromised by the fact they had to fit a new engine in no time, but depending on the cooling demands of the Mercedes compared to the Honda, they might actually have been lucky.
      Actually there’s always room for improvement and the powertrain guys have some freedom regarding the engine mapping, the cooling, the exhaust shape, the layout of the peripherals, mount points, etc. The engine might be “frozen”, but there is still some freedom left to get a little more performance out of it or adapt to the demands of the chassis- and aero department.

      1. John says:

        “might have been lucky”?!

        where were you? They were definitely lucky!

        Lucky that Mercedes were able to provide engines.
        Lucky that McLaren agreed to the deal.
        Lucky that the rest of the teams agreed to let it happen.
        Lucky that Jenson hadn’t been snapped up by another team.
        Lucky that the car could take the Mercedes powerplant (they were offered others).

        Anonymous you have seriously missed the point.
        The same team that magically created a winning car has since gone backwards. Longer knowledge of the Mercedes engine has created lesser performance.

        We should never forget what Brawn achieved has never been done before and would have been like Toyota coming out on top – or maybe Force India winning this year.

        One last point – McLaren told me they could have been playing with exhaust blown diffusers 15 years ago… if they had thought about it.

      2. Kevin Green says:

        poppycock! it was more to do with the financial commitment Honda had put in place for that coming season development wise and Brawn understanding where they were in terms of the car chassis etc, why else would Brawn invest so much in personally? would never have stuck for a job!

  18. Godfather says:

    Compared to the Caterham and Red Bull launch, the Mercedes launch was a very smart one. The Silverstone run last week, the test in Barcelona during the weekend and then the proper launch on Tuesday. I think they did the right thing by delaying the launch but time will tell.

    The drivers seems to be happy. I sincerely hope they will be in front ahead of the McLarens and the Ferraris. There should be more competition at the front and I hope Mercedes can deliver this year.

  19. Kay says:

    I don’t care who but somebody just beat those Red Cows please. It’d be great if Merc AMG can beat the cows on several occasions in the upcoming season.

    1. Jose Arellano says:

      haha +1000 !

      mouthwatering prospect of 4 teams fighting for wins!

  20. Jonathan says:

    I ve just read the article on BBC sport. Id like to see Mercedes up there as another team to challenge Red Bull this season but am not sure at the moment. Firstly because I think launching a car late shows you arent prepared in time and secondly because of Ross’s lack of ambition with his remaining 2 ambitions in motorsport being for schumi and rosberg to win a race ach…rather than to knock red bull off their perch!

    I hope im wrong cos Id love to see the team from Brackley do well!

    1. olivier says:

      Remember 2009. Brawn told the media that he wanted to do “reasonably well” with the Brawn cars … the rest is history.

  21. Wu says:

    Mercedes has been in no man’s land for 2 years, occasionaly mixing it up with the top teams but just as often mixing it “down” with the midfielders.

    There’s no way of telling where it will be this year untill the first race, but I think they made a step forward. Where they are in terms of the big 3 depends on those teams. Ferrari seem to have gone back, and Mclaren is an unknown. Red Bull are apparently the top dogs they have been for past 2 years, but might be hindered by the blown diffuser ban more so than other teams.

    I’m hoping driver skill and experience will count for more than it did last year, and Merc has a lot of that going for it. Rosberg is simply fast, and Schumi has more experience and tech knowledge than any other driver on the grid. This could be a strong season for the team, but not a particularly strong one for either driver… not enough to win the WDC for sure. But as long as the team gain ground on from last year, it will be a relative success.

  22. Sudhir says:

    I think the merc is going to be fast. they have a slot running under the side pods thru the length of the car and that could be their party trick this year. I would have caused them plenty of packaging grief but it could turn out to be the innovation of this year. Just speculating that if the inner side of this slot is perforated (with f1 regs permitting) exposing the hot radiators and similar elements from inside, we could have a mother of all hot blown diffusers here.
    Even otherwise the slot may give performance benefits. Also, the front of the bargeboard and everything seems to be designed to feed as much air to this slot

  23. Rich C says:

    “detailed and sophisticated” eh?
    I had a wife like that but, unfortunately, she was barking mad.
    Hope it works better for *them.

  24. Allan says:

    I think the cars you see for the first two tests will look like the cars at the first race but I have heard that some teams are sandbagging there innovations for the third test so other teams can’t copy and test before the first race.

    James do you think the third test will show the true pace of the cars as McLaren did long runs instead of the one lap yet where close to the top pace?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, we should see some performance in 3rd test

  25. John says:

    Why are so many reading negative things into Ross Brawn’s 2 ambitions?

    Surely it should be read as BOTH drivers winning a race.

    Nobody was reading Red Bull’s ’11 season like that – yet if Webber had not been all but gifted his win the Red Bull team would not have matched this ambition… but would still have both championships.

    I think Rosberg would be devastated to see schumacher win races without winning one himself – and a winless schumacher would be embarrassed to see Rosberg win several.

  26. JohnBt says:

    Can’ help but feel the WO3 stepped nose looks like a tooth pick, seems they have the smallest nose though. I’m trying to get use to this year’s weird nosy design.

    And will this be Schumi’s last season?

  27. Andy C says:

    James
    has there been much discussion at the FIA/Charlie about the step noses.

    Just looking at it from a safety perspective, the reg was changed to lowe the overall height of the nose to stop a launch type effect that webber had over Heikki.

    It strikes me that the lower half of the nose (i.e the height from floor to bottom) section remains unchanged as most teams have gone for the step nose to keep it under the reference point. I understand it was discussed and the reason is to stop people having to redesign a lower chassis – a la mclaren).

    That coupled to the smaller pointer nose front section surely makes it more likely to cause more damage to another car on a side on impact (i.e a t-bone into the side of the car)

    Just a thought..

  28. ajk says:

    Hi!

    FIA banned Renault’s reactive suspension on grounds they used a moveable device that only (mainly) existed to improve aerodynamics.

    Mercedes is said to have a W-duct that direct airflow to different parts of front wing depending whether the car is turning or on a straight? How can that be achieved without any moveable part that exists mainly for some other reason but improving aerodynamics?

    Also according to some recent reports Mercedes W03 allegedly have some new aerodynamic device under the rear light and exhaust gases are directed to that part in order to produce more downforce. FIA has cleared their exhaust as legal but even though Mercedes is not blowing the diffuser, didn’t FIA ban any deliberate use of exhaust gases to increase downforce? w03 just does that (too).

    Is W03 really legal? If it is, I completely fail to see where line in the water is drawn.

  29. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to give one thing again and help others such as you helped me.

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