Mercedes have reverted to a black livery for the new Formula One season as they bid to return to the summit of Grand Prix racing in 2023.
Lewis Hamilton and fellow driver George Russell unveiled the new car during Wednesday’s launch at the Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire, central England.
Multiple world champion Hamilton, 38, last year finished a relatively lowly sixth — his worst position at the end of a Formula One championship — as Mercedes struggled to adapt to the sport’s new regulations.
But now they hope a return to black — the colours which carried British racer Hamilton to a record-equalling seventh title in 2020 — will signal a change of fortune.
Hamilton, one of the few leading people of colour in motorsport, encouraged Mercedes to paint their car black for the 2020 and 2021 seasons as part of an anti-racism campaign.
Mercedes’ traditional racing colour has been silver, hence the Germany-founded marque’s nickname of the “Silver Arrows”.
And team principal Toto Wolff said there was a performance reason behind this year’s change of colours.
“We were overweight last year,” said Wolff. “This year we have tried to figure out where we can squeeze out every single gram. So now history repeats itself.
“The car has some raw carbon bits, along with some that are painted matte black.
“Of course when we changed the livery in 2020, the main driving factor was to support the diversity and equality causes which are always close to our heart.
“The colour black became part of our DNA at that point, so we are pleased to return to it.”
‘Been here a long time’
Hamilton saw his record of winning at least one race in every season of his career—a run extending back to his debut campaign for McLaren in 2007 — end last year when he finished a huge 214 points adrift of champion Max Verstappen and even behind Mercedes team-mate Russell, who came fourth.
Hamilton, entering the final year of his current £40 million-a-season deal, will hope Mercedes have now given him a machine to challenge rival Verstappen and Red Bull.
“I have been here a long time,” Hamilton said ahead of his 11th season with Mercedes and his 17th in all in Formula One.
“I continue to love racing and that is never ever going to change. It is part of my DNA and I always believe I can get better.
“I love the challenge of the mental and the physical elements, of having to deep dive, and see how I can extract more performance from me, the people around me, and the car that is constantly evolving.
“There is always a new log-book and new tools that you have to get used to, and I love that so I am planning to stay a little bit longer.”
Hamilton and Russell – who claimed his first victory and Mercedes’ sole win of 2022 during the penultimate round in Brazil – will get their first run-out with this year’s car during three days of testing in Bahrain next week before the curtain-raiser, also in the Gulf Kingdom, on March 5.
Russell, 25, said he knew what was expected as he prepared for his second season with Mercedes.
“We are all here to win,” he said. “It is as simple as that.
“We need to go out there and see the challenges we are faced with, but the team has put so much hard work into this car.”
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