Mercedes return to black in search of titles

Mercedes return to black in search of titles
A handout image released by Mercedes shows the team's new Formula One racing car during their 2023 season launch in Silverstone. Photo: Mercedes/AFP

Mercedes went back to black on Wednesday with a sleek new Formula One car they hope will allow Lewis Hamilton and George Russell to fight for wins and titles after a difficult 2022 season.

The team ended an unprecedented run of eight successive constructors' titles with third place overall last year after wrestling with a bouncing car whose performance was hard to extract.

While Russell celebrated his first Formula One victory in Brazil, seven-time world champion Hamilton failed to win a race all season for the first time in a Formula One career that started in 2007.

"It looks good. Is she going to be as fast as she looks? I hope so," commented team boss Toto Wolff at a digital launch from Silverstone.

"We've seen the car now and we're contemplating is she fast or not? Have we cured some of the problems? What are going to be the challenges that we spot on track?," added the Austrian. "And that is a big unknown.

"But we are positive, there's excitement. We have the tools to understand, to grow and develop the car and hopefully give George and Lewis something that works."

Wolff said the team would be going "all-in" to get back in front and beat champions Red Bull, who have Max Verstappen chasing a third successive drivers' title, and runners-up Ferrari.

Mercedes ran a silver liveried car last year and the return to the black of 2020 and 2021, tying in with the team's push for greater diversity, has the additional benefit of saving weight by removing paint and leaving raw carbon fibre.

"It looks great in black," said Hamilton, now 38 and winner of a record 103 Grands Prix.

The Briton, starting his 11th season with the team and "planning to stay a little bit longer", said he always believed he could get better.

"I’m excited to go racing again. I feel calm, energised, and have my focus sharpened. I’m ready to do what’s necessary to win," he said.

Russell said the team had learnt a lot last year "and hopefully we've taken a step up".

"We're all here to win, it's as simple as that," he added.

"We need to see what challenges we are facing but the team have put so much hard work into this car, the motivation and the fire within the factory is just immense because people don't want a repeat of what happened in 2022."

Germany's Mick Schumacher has joined the team from Haas as reserve while Mercedes also have some new sponsors with Qualcomm Technologies signing a multi-year deal with its Snapdragon brand, previously at Ferrari.

The season starts in Bahrain on March 5, with testing at the Sakhir circuit next week.

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