LONDON: Formula One champions Mercedes ran their new car for the first time at Silverstone on Wednesday with titleholder Lewis Hamilton saying he felt 2019 could turn out even better than last season.
With some other teams racing against time to get their new cars built and ready for the start of pre-season testing in Spain on Monday, Mercedes made sure they were on track in every respect.
Hamilton’s Finnish team-mate Valtteri Bottas performed the initial shakedown laps as part of a 100 km filming day, with five-times world champion Hamilton due to be in the car during the afternoon.
“I completely switched off from racing for a while, trying to focus and re-centre myself and training hard for the new season. 2018 was a great year, but I feel like 2019 can be even better,” Hamilton said.
“I want to achieve more, I want to continue to keep pushing. I feel energised and I’m ready to attack.”
The Briton won 11 races last year on his way to becoming only the third driver to win five titles and with a career tally of 73 wins is now only 18 off Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91.
Hamilton has also won 51 of the 100 grands prix in the V6 turbo era that started in 2014 and four of the last five championships.
“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,” he added.
Mercedes have also won the last five constructors’ championships but team boss Toto Wolff warned that rule changes could shake things up.
“We’re taking nothing for granted and there’s absolutely no feeling of entitlement to be at the front,” he said.
“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.”
Mercedes said the new car, sporting a similar silver livery and branding to last year’s model, had changed substantially under the skin.
Technical director James Allison said the team had worked hard on the suspension and aerodynamics to deliver a car that would be kinder to its tyres than last year and remain competitive at every track on the calendar.
“Components that we felt were stripped to the bone in 2018 have been taken, one by one, and subjected to a further round of aggressive analysis to shave further weight from them,” he added.
“Collectively each of these victories adds up to a handful of kilos that have been invested back in the car on aerodynamics, suspension and power unit to bring performance.”
Mercedes said changes had been made to the cooling architecture of the power unit, making it more efficient and also bringing aerodynamic benefits.
Some 7,000 drawings were turned into components and cumulative testing of the parts amounted to around 500,000km before the car had even left the garage for the first time.
The season starts in Australia on March 17.