Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have taken the covers off Mercedes' 2017 challenger, the W08, at Silverstone.
The world champions' unveiling is the most anticipated of the cars launched so far, as many expect it to be the benchmark once again despite massive regulation changes for the 2017 season. Mercedes has dominated the V6 turbo era and the W08 will be tasked with defending the drivers' and constructors' championships won for three straight seasons.
Hamilton had already taken the car to the track on Thursday morning for some initial laps as part of Mercedes' filming day, something Bottas will do in the afternoon. Hamilton then joined his new Finnish teammate, who replaces retired world champion Nico Rosberg, in taking the covers off in a live stream on the Mercedes website before the car was rolled out to the circuit for the waiting media.
Unlike the four other 2017 models unveiled so far, the W08 only features a small shark fin on the run down to the rear wing assembly. In keeping with its philosophy from recent seasons the car features a narrow nose design different to any seen so far, which have all featured thumb-like stubs. It also has a significantly large floor to the car, while also featuring a huge S-duct outlet similar to the one featured on recent models.
Despite the sweeping regulation changes for 2017 many expect the W08 to be the benchmark again, with customer team Force India warning Mercedes has made an "unprecedented" step forward with its already-dominant V6 turbo engine.
Speaking about his first impression of the car, Hamilton said: "It felt incredible. Firstly, very proud to continue with this team. Yesterday was the first time seeing the car coming together, it's the most detailed piece of machinery I've seen so far in Formula One. Today I got to drive, it felt pretty awesome!
"Driving today, the car obviously feels wider, the front tyres feel huge, there's quite a lot of grip already even in the cold conditions here."
Mercedes heads into winter testing with uncertainty swirling around its use of 'trick' suspension systems, something it pioneered in the 2016 season. Ferrari wrote to the FIA to query the use of advanced hydraulic system and whether a similar concept would be deemed acceptable in the regulations. The FIA is expected to clarify its stance before testing begins on February 27, though many expect the controversy to culminate in an official protest at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
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