And here it is…the Mercedes W12 which, according to popular belief, is set to dominate the 2021 F1 World Championship.
You will be seeing a huge amount of the car this year, so may as well start familiarising yourself with it.
It’s a potential history-maker, in the sense that Sir Lewis Hamilton is the red-hot favourite to secure a record eighth drivers’ World Championship title having signed a new one-year contract with Mercedes.
But Valtteri Bottas, after four years in which he has yet to show he is anything more than Hamilton’s wingman, will hope this is finally the season in which he emerges from the Briton’s shadow and becomes a genuine contender himself.
This will also be the first campaign since it was announced Mercedes F1 is now owned equally by three distinct parties – Daimler, sponsor Ineos and team principal Toto Wolff.
Like Hamilton, they will be going for an eighth World Championship – the difference being that in Mercedes’ case it would be eight on the spin. Hamilton’s sequence was interrupted when he was pipped to the title by team-mate Nico Rosberg in 2016.
The first indications of the W12’s performance in relation to its illustrious predecessors will come in pre-season testing in Bahrain, running from March 12-14.
Two weeks later, Mercedes will launch their bid for the ‘straight eight’ when the opening race of the campaign takes place at the same Sakhir circuit.
Not for the first time, the Brackley-based squad have been playing down expectations about their car, insisting it has not been as straightforward a winter as might have been expected considering the regulations remain relatively static – especially compared to next year.
Technical director James Allison described the off-season as “unusual, unfamiliar and intense” because there have still been some aerodynamic changes to the rules.
He added: “We are just full of the anxiety and excitement of waiting to find out whether all this investment we have made into the new car will indeed pay off with a challenger that’s capable of fighting from the front.”
We doubt they will be too disappointed on that score.
Meanwhile, Hywel Thomas, managing director of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, warned of “some issues with the power units” created by the challenge of the extra grands prix in the 23-race calendar and the shorter off-season due to the later finish of last year’s campaign.
Mercedes also went into some detail on some of the changes we will see on the W12 due to the change in aero regulations for the 2021 season.
Some tweaks around the diffuser…
The floor has been sealed around the bargeboard area.
The rear winglets have also been modified.