Mercedes became the last of the front-running Formula 1 teams to officially unveil its 2012 car, when it rolled out the W03 at Barcelona prior to the start of the second week of testing today.
The new car had already had a shakedown run at Silverstone last week, and a private test at Catalunya on Sunday – which Mercedes was permitted to undertake because it had only been present for three of the four days of running at Jerez earlier this month.
The team had chosen to stick with its 2011 car for Jerez in order to gain data on this year's Pirelli tires, and was quickest on two of the days it was present, although it was running to full '11 specification including the no-longer-permitted exhaust-blown diffuser.
Mercedes' motorsport chief Norbert Haug said earlier that the W03 would not feature any radical innovations – contrary to speculation that the team had waited until the second test to reveal the car because it featured technical breakthroughs it did not want rivals to copy. The most obvious outward change is the move to a stepped nose, in common with the majority of rival teams.
Having been unable to beat rivals Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari to race wins in its first two years, Mercedes GP is hoping to get among the top three on a more regular basis this year. Last season it revamped its technical team with the addition of former Renault man Bob Bell, ex-Ferrari design chief Aldo Costa, and Geoff Willis, formerly of Williams, BAR and Red Bull.
Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher continue in an unchanged driver lineup at Mercedes. With Schumacher coming into the final season of what was initially planned as a three-year comeback deal, speculation about whether the seven-time champion will stay on into 2013 and beyond is likely to be one of the biggest stories around Mercedes this season.