World champions Mercedes have unveiled the car they hope will fire them to a hat-trick of consecutive Formula 1 titles.
Lewis Hamilton, winner of the last two driver championships, is bidding to become the first Briton to claim four titles, while his team will aim to strengthen their stranglehold on the sport in which they have triumphed in 32 of the last 38 races.
With few changes to the sport’s technical regulations over the winter, the Silver Arrows will begin the season, which starts in Melbourne on 20 March, as the favourites.
The W07, similar in appearance to its all-conquering predecessor, will be officially rolled out at the Circuit de Catalunya today ahead of this week’s four-day winter test.
Hamilton will take to the wheel first with team-mate Nico Rosberg taking up testing duties tomorrow.
“While the car may look very similar to its predecessor from the outside – as is inherent within stable regulations – underneath there are quite a lot of mini revolutions that make up an overall evolution for the new season,” technical director Paddy Lowe said.
“It’s very tough to find performance under a stable set of regulations and we were particularly pleased with how the car turned out in 2015 when we had the same situation.
“2016 is another carry-over year from a regulatory point of view and potential gains inevitably become harder to find under these circumstances. It’s far easier to find performance when you have a new set of rules, that’s for sure.”
McLaren, who last year endured a dreadful campaign, also lifted the lid on their challenger ahead of today’s first winter test.
The famous British team cobbled together a paltry 27 points last term following their renewed relationship with Japanese manufacturer Honda. Speaking on the eve of the first test, McLaren, sporting a moody black livery, noticeably steered clear of making any outlandish predictions for the new campaign.
Jenson Button, who put his retirement plans on hold to enter a 17th Formula 1 campaign, said: “Despite the ups and downs we saw last year, there were steady improvements all year long, and that gives us confidence in the design direction we’re taking.
“There are a lot of positives we can build on.
“I’m not about to make any over-optimistic predictions – Formula 1 is far too unpredictable for me to do that – but, from what I’ve seen so far, the aero detailing on the car looks fantastic.”