Lewis Hamilton has said that he “can’t wait to get out on track” after the new Mercedes W12 E Performance was unveiled on Tuesday.
The seven-time Formula 1 world champion signed a one-year contract extension with Mercedes over the off-season and goes into the 2021 campaign targeting a record breaking eighth world drivers’ championship.
In addition to his teammate Valtteri Bottas, there is hope that the Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez can put up a genuine challenge with the Milton Keynes outfit showing real signs of improvement in the back-end of last season.
“The launch day of a new car is always a really exciting one,” said Hamilton. “It’s great to reveal to the world the result of everyone’s hard work at the factories and to see some of my team-mates in person, which has been so rare during the past year.
“I’ve been in touch with the engineers through the winter, keeping track of their preparations as I prepare myself for the season ahead. The excitement has been building and building, so now I just can’t wait to get out on track in the W12.”
Addressing why he only signed a one-year deal, the 36-year-old said: “Firstly, I’m kind of in a fortunate position where I’ve achieved most of the stuff that I’ve wanted to achieve up to this point.
“So there’s no real need necessarily to plan too far ahead in the future. I think we live in quite an unusual period of time in life, and I just wanted one year. Then we can talk about if we do more, and keep adding it if we have to.”
Bottas has had a less hectic winter than Hamilton after putting pen to paper on a new deal midway through last season and spent time driving a rally car at the Arctic Rally as part of his preparation.
“Obviously we haven’t been able to visit the factory much in the past year, so firstly, I’m really happy to be back here and to see the new car in person for the first time,” Bottas added.
“I’ve been getting regular updates on how things are progressing, so it’s nice to now be able to see the end result in the flesh and that just gets me more fired up for the new season.
“The cars are pretty similar to last year but there are some interesting aero changes that will have an impact on how the car handles and performs, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it feels on track in Bahrain.”
The two drivers will first get an opportunity to drive the car when pre-season testing gets underway in Bahain on March 12.