Mercedes' 2019 F1 car, the W10, has hit the track for the first time at Silverstone.
The W10 is the car that Lewis Hamilton will use to defend his world championship this year and the car Mercedes hopes can deliver a sixth straight constructors' championship to equal Ferrari's record for consecutive victories. Mercedes' dominance of Formula One since the last major engine regulation change in 2014 has seen it win the past five championships and 74 of the last 100 races.
Along with Red Bull and Toro Rosso, the W10 will be one of the first cars to hit the track this year as the team dedicates one of its two filming days to a shakedown of the W10 at Silverstone on Wednesday. Valtteri Bottas will put the first miles on the car before handing over to Hamilton, with the pair limited to just 100km under F1's strict filming regulations. It will then be sent to Barcelona for the opening day of official pre-season testing on Monday.
"The 2019 season will be a new challenge for all of us," team boss Toto Wolff said. "The regulations have changed quite substantially. We have to start from scratch, we need to prove ourselves again -- against our own expectations and against our competitors. We start the season with zero points, so we're taking nothing for granted and there's absolutely no feeling of entitlement to be at the front. In fact, with the regulation change for the new season, every team can have a shot at the title and we're seeing all of them as a potential threat."
Hamilton added: "This is my seventh year with the team and the energy and the determination within the team are really inspiring. The buzz really starts at the beginning of the year when you see the car coming together. And then you get to the shakedown and you get into the car -- it just never gets old. It feels like a real privilege -- so many people have worked together to form that car and you know how much hard work has gone into it. Driving the new car is like meeting someone new for the first time -- you want to get to know them the best way as quick as possible as you embark on a journey together."
The 2019 season brings with it a set of regulation changes, including revisions to the front wing, rear wing, barge boards and brake ducts in an attempt to aid overtaking. The changes have the potential to upset the order but Mercedes technical director James Allison is hopeful they could also present an opportunity for his team to cement its place at the top of the sport.
"Regulation changes are both opportunity and threat," he said. "They are an opportunity because all the old assumptions about what you need to have to be quick are swept away, and if you are fleet of foot and smart in dealing with that, you can do better than all the other teams that are tackling the same change.
"They are a threat because if you are not as smart and you didn't see how to make the most of these new regulations, then you'll certainly suffer in the coming season. But they are always exhilarating because you have that sharp sense of anxiety that you might not be doing enough but equally the thrill and excitement of looking forward to finding out."
Allison said there had been an emphasis on weight saving with the W10, but that some of the basic design principles of last year's championship-winning W09 had been carried over.
"The W10 retains the same wheelbase and general architecture as its forebears, but a close inspection will reveal that the execution of this concept has been further refined -- every item pushed tighter, made more slender -- each change permitting us to improve the aerodynamic performance beyond what would have been possible had we accepted the physical limitations of the 2018 design.
"The handling of the W09 was a big improvement over the rather idiosyncratic W08. We managed to be competitive at tracks which had plagued us in recent years. However, notwithstanding this improvement, we were still not as good as some of our competitors at preserving the performance of the rear tyres. We have worked hard on the suspension and aerodynamic characteristics to deliver a car that will be much kinder to its tyres -- enough, we hope, to allow us to be competitive at all phases of the race and at each track on the calendar."