Mercedes admit to being racked with anxiety over their preparations for the new season, worrying “have we missed something?” with the W12.
The reason for the insecurities is the relatively static regulations for 2021, which mean large parts of the World Championship-dominating W11 have been carried over to the new car.
That means much less work in terms of creating and building the W12 has been necessary than will be the case, for example, next winter before the sweeping rule changes for the 2022 F1 campaign kick in.
Therefore, according to Mercedes technical director James Allison, there is a fear that something, however obvious or obscure, may have been overlooked in putting together the challenger that will be driven by Sir Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas this year.
“It’s a strange year this one,” said Allison in an interview on the Mercedes website. “It feels like it’s going smoothly here, and we hope it is going smoothly, but it’s such a different start to the year for us. So there’s a little part of us just nagging away in the back of our heads going ‘have we forgotten something?’
“Because, unlike in a normal year, when we would have a billion new bits all streaming in from all four corners of the earth to put together the new car right at the last minute, this year is a little different. That’s because much of what we will launch with the W12 has already seen action on the track in 2020.
“So, instead of having all that new inventory being tested, put into sub-assemblies and then put onto the real car, we have instead got more of a management job to make sure our stock levels are right, we are putting all the things we need to in the right places and are testing the things that have changed, rather than the entire car.
“And because that’s such a change of rhythm, it does make us worry have we missed something? We are busy, of course, double and triple checking we haven’t missed anything, so by the time things are ready to be put on planes and sent off to the tracks, we don’t have any embarrassing omissions.”
Ten days later, Hamilton and Bottas will drive it in pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit, with the season’s first race taking place on the same track on March 28.