Mercedes F1 car launch: Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas' vehicle unveiled

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Reigning Formula 1 World Champions Mercedes unveiled their 2021 challenger on Tuesday morning as the W12 broke cover - maintaining its black livery from last season.

The Mercs have been the cars to beat in the modern turbo-hybrid era and they're looking to make it eight Constructors' titles in a row this year before new regulations come in for 2022.

Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, bids to make history as he hunts an eighth Drivers' title to eclipse the bar of seven he matched in 2020, set by Michael Schumacher.

As has been the case since 2017, Hamilton is joined by Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas, who finished a distant second last year in the standings and will be bidding to close the gap on his record-breaking teammate.

The Mercedes-AMG F1 W12 E Performance, to give it its full name, carries a lot of similar specification to its 2020 predecessor - a common theme for the 2021 grid with teams only able to make a set number of developmental changes in the off-season to help with costs ahead of the big changes in 2022.

One developmental area of note, however, sees a trimmed floor on the chassis - something that is required by the rule changes for 2021 - whilst Mercedes were also working on their engine having admitted in February there were a few early teething troubles with the new power unit.

Officials React

Indeed, speaking at the launch, technical director James Allison discussed the changes that had been made to the car, as well as the specifics of the new floor being kept hidden from their onlooking rivals.

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"It's an old friend in many ways. We've got the same monocoque, same gearbox, same structure underneath the car but a new side-pod structure to allow us to get more power out of the engine.

"It's got new aerodynamic finery that we hope will make it successful but we're not showing you along the floor. That area is affected most by new regulations and there's a bunch of aero that we're not quite ready to reveal to the world because we don't want competitors looking at it, so we've got a couple of weeks on them in that respect."

The competitive juices are already flowing, with Mercedes obviously keen to have a gap to their competitors come testing, with team boss Toto Wolff also ruling out any chance of complacency.

"You can't rest on your laurels. The last few years for us were tremendous but you can't dwell on that. We can't look too far ahead and think about titles.

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"Within the team, we never have expectations because there is always some kind of scepticism if we've done a good enough job in the winter. We know if we don't push ourselves every single day we might fall back and that thought is scary.

Stability is key in every team, we work as a group collectively. It just works, we love the interaction with Lewis and Valtteri and we look back in the past and it's been successful.

As for the drivers, the excitement is growing too.

Hamilton & Bottas React

Finnish driver Bottas is obviously looking to reel in Hamilton and explained his goals for the new season.

"I learned a lot of lessons in 2020. There are so many things in the sport that you learn about yourself and the opportunity to be a better driver comes each year.

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"The goal is to be on the grid at Bahrain knowing I've done everything I can and that's the goal come Abu Dhabi at the end of the season too - hopefully that'll be enough."

Whilst for Hamilton, the goal, alongside winning an eighth title, is seeing progress now made on the talk and discussions that were made around improved diversity in the sport, with him saying that he only signed a one-year deal as he feels he's already achieved many of his on-track aims.

"It always feels like a long break and I'm excited to see what the new car is like when we get out there.

“I have achieved most of the stuff I wanted to so there is no real need to plan too far into the future. We are living in an unusual time and I just wanted one year. We can talk about if we want to do more and keep adding it by one if we have to.

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"The main priority in 2021 is about pushing for diversity and making sure the action and talk in 2020 is acted on."

A big year awaits on and off the track for F1's dominant force, then, and we're now under a month away from seeing how they get on.

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