Just 75 days after the last race of the 2019 season, Mercedes took to the track this morning to complete the first laps with the team’s all-new car for the 2020 season.
“2020 will be particularly challenging because there will be teams that will put a lot of focus on 2020 and there will be teams that will start to shift their resources into 2021. Getting that balance right will very important, but that’s not an easy thing to do,” said Toto Wolff. “Our ambition is clear: we want to be competitive in both 2020 and 2021. That is a great challenge, but the greater the challenge, the more we like it.”
The factories were bustling over the winter to develop, manufacture, assemble and test new components and systems for the new car. Over 100,000 parts were checked in inspection with 40,000 components tested in non-destructive testing to make sure they were up to the standards the team requires; over 8,000 drawn parts created and put through the manufacturing and testing process.
“The atmosphere this year is very calm, very focused – we all know that there’s a job to do and results to be delivered in order to meet our own expectations, so we’re working hard to try and prepare in the best way possible,” said Wolff. “We feel no sense of entitlement to win races or championships, we know that we need to fight extremely hard for that as we had to in every year. This has been our mind-set from the beginning.”
Today’s running constitutes an official 100 km filming day, which the team also uses as a final systems check before the first pre-season test in Barcelona.
Both drivers were eager to get back into the car after their winter break, which included intensive training to prepare for the upcoming season.
“It’s a real privilege for Valtteri and myself to be the only people who get to drive this machine and I’m really looking forward to stretching its legs”, said Hamilton. “I’ve been in constant communications with the engineers, trying to keep an eye on everything that was happening at the factory. Today is a really exciting day – finally seeing in person what this team has worked towards so hard. As a driver, you’re just itching to get back into the car.”
“The first time I came to the factory this was quite a few weeks ago for a number of meetings with the engineers and we’ve been in touch since then,” added Bottas. “It’s been really interesting for me to get more and more involved, learning about all the new features of our weapon for this year’s fight. Developing and building a new car is never straight-forward, it’s a huge effort by every single team member to deliver this year on year. Now things really kick off and I’m very excited to finally get the chance to drive the new car. I’ve been waiting to get back behind the wheel.”
“I’ve had the best winter training yet,” said Hamilton. “Over the winter, I’ve really been trying to analyse where we were last year and how I can grow and improve as a driver and as a human being. Having great consistency is going to be key for all of us – not just in terms of our reliability, but also for us as drivers. This team works so hard to give us this incredible machine, but if we put a foot wrong out there, it costs all of us, so that’s something I’ve really been trying to focus on – how can I take it to another level as a driver, how can I extract more from myself and from the team, and trying to deliver something really great this year. This is my eighth year with this team and this year’s challenge is super exciting. I have no doubt every single team member will try to raise the bar within themselves and I’ll be trying to do the same.”
“I think this has been my best winter training so far,” said Bottas. “I did a lot of different training routines in different climate zones; I’m ready and prepared and I can’t wait for the new season to start. I actually did quite a bit of driving as well – from rally cars to dog sleds in the snow in Finland. This season is going to be really challenging, but I know that every single member of this team will give it everything to put us in the best possible position for the fight.”
In addition to staying true to the driver line-up that won the team the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Constructors’ Championships, the team will be complemented by two drivers sharing reserve driver duties on the race weekends: Mercedes Formula E driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who will support the F1 team, and Esteban Gutierrez in addition to his role as the team’s simulator and development driver.