Mercedes launch W12 car for 2021 F1 season which Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas will vie for world title
Is this the car that will power Lewis Hamilton to an unprecedented eighth Formula 1 world title? Mercedes' new W12 car joins the grid for 2021, with world champions retaining black livery introduced last year in powerful visual message against racism
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 02/03/21 4:42pm
Mercedes have revealed a first look at the W12 car which Lewis Hamilton will bid to win a record-breaking eighth Formula 1 world championship with this year.
The car retains the black livery introduced last year as part of Mercedes' commitment to improving diversity, inclusion and tackling global racism.
Mercedes say the car features "considerable aerodynamic changes", partly in response to new regulations at the rear of the car, in addition to improvements including its suspension and engine.
"Every year we reset our focus and define the right objectives," said team boss Toto Wolff, who has overseen a record seven championship doubles in a row since the start of 2014.
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"That may sound simple but it's damn hard and is probably why there are no sports teams out there with seven consecutive titles. So many things can happen and it's very natural to get used to success, and therefore not fight as hard for it.
"But this team has not shown any of that. I see the same fire, hunger and passion now as I did the first time I walked through the doors in 2013.
"Every season presents a new challenge and therefore, a new goal for us to achieve. 2021 brings changes to the regulations, which could impact our competitiveness, plus the cost cap and working on the major rule changes of 2022.
"These challenges excite us."
Hamilton on his one-year deal & 2021 dual target
Hamilton starts his ninth season at the team he has rewritten the sport's record books at, but his medium-term F1 future remains uncertain after he only signed a one-year deal for 2021 last month.
Speaking on the matter for the first time, Hamilton said at the launch: "Firstly I'm in a fortunate position where I've achieved most of the stuff that I've wanted to achieve up to this point, so there's no real need necessarily to plan too far ahead into the future.
"We live in quite an unusual period of time in life and I just wanted one year. Then we can talk about if we do more and keep add it one [at a time] if we have to."
After posing the question on social media last week asking 'what's next?' in the fight for equality, Hamilton also made clear that ensuring there was tangible action in improving diversity this year would sit alongside his title-winning aspirations.
"The main priority in the past was just winning championships but now it's about pushing for [diversity]," said Hamilton.
"Last year there was a lot of discussion about equality and inclusion and there was a lot of talk. This year it's about pushing for diversity and really making sure that action is taken. So that's kind of at the core at the drive for me.
"But, of course, we exist to win. That's what all these guys and girls here at working towards so that's my goal to deliver for them."
Bottas, alongside Hamilton for a fifth consecutive year, is also on a one-year term and will be hoping to finally mount a consistent challenge to his team-mate in a season Mercedes again start as favourites for both championships.
"I've been getting regular updates on how things are progressing, so it's nice to now be able to see the end result in the flesh and that just gets me more fired up for the new season," said Bottas.
"The cars are pretty similar to last year but there are some interesting aero changes that will have an impact on how the car handles and performs, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it feels on track in Bahrain."
The Brackley team are currently on an unprecedented sequence of seven successive drivers' and constructors' championship doubles, stretching back to the start of the hybrid-turbo engine era seven years ago.
Mercedes retain element of W12 secrecy
In a year when large aspects of F1 car design have been 'frozen' from one season to another on cost grounds amid the pandemic, each team can still spend two allocated 'tokens' on heavy-duty areas to upgrade for 2021.
But Mercedes are not yet revealing where they have opted to use theirs. The world champions also consciously opted to not reveal how exactly they had interpreted F1's new floor rules at Tuesday's launch.
"We have spent our tokens, but we won't reveal how we used them just yet," said technical director James Allison.
"That'll become clear in good time."
The W12 featured what appeared to be a particularly aggressive sidepod design.
Engine development has, however, remained unrestricted and Mercedes, who made big strides in F1's power stakes last year after being overtaken by Ferrari, say they have focused on three key areas of improvement - including some "completely new innovations".
"We identified three main areas to work on: first, we've continued the development of the technology in the Power Unit. That's a continuous process, and we feel like we've been able to take a step forward on that front again this year," said engine boss Hywel Thomas.
"The second area is reliability. We discovered some design issues last year, so we've been looking at those and introduced some changes to address them. And we've also got some completely new innovations that will be in the racing PU for the first time.
"That was particularly challenging because last season finished late, so the winter period has been shorter than normal and has given us less time to prepare, which put extra strain on the business."
The W12 will make its track debut when pre-season testing begins in Bahrain on March 12.