Picture: Mercedes W03 spied at Silverstone

2012 F1 cars

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Mercedes W03, Silverstone, 2012

The Mercedes W03 broke cover at Silverstone yesterday as the team put the car through a 100km shakedown test.

The images above and below of Michael Schumacher driving the car were taken and sent in by a reader.

It shows Mercedes have adopted an aggressive stepped nose on the W03.

Mercedes have also released footage of Nico Rosberg driving the car including helmet camera footage:

Here is a video shot of the car testing yesterday:

Mercedes W03, Silverstone, 2012

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    Image © Roy Powell

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    116 comments on “Picture: Mercedes W03 spied at Silverstone”

    1. Woah, that’s a nasty step.

    2. I think Ferrari just lost the honour of worst stepped nose?

      1. I don’t think so. Ferrari have the worst stepped nose followed by Red Bull, in my opinion.

        1. I hope it turns out to be the best stepped nose followed by all the rest.:)

          1. You and me both… like the Mclaren’s absence of a step, the severity of that step could either be a stroke of genius or a complete disaster!

            1. Really doubt the stepped nose alone will make that big of a difference. Mclaren’s nose last year was pretty low, Red Bull’s was high, same this year just McLaren’s design doesn’t need the step.

            2. The only difference bettween this and the ferrari nose is the ferrari nose is red…

            3. @Harry@everyone whose obsessed with noses

              The nose is going to be so inconsequential this year that all the teams are probably ecstatic. All the worlds internet and media are having a frenzy about the ugliest and best looking noses rather than talking about analysing and photographing the really clever bits.

            4. @TheBrav3

              You can stay. :D

              It’s a pity that at the first race all the commentators will talk about are the noses.

          2. Are we all sure the stepped and non stepped noses are really the big area of performance differentiation in 2012. I’m not.

            They are the most striking thing about the cars…but so what? When the season starts and one car leads the rest we are going to be talking about the magic trick going on on the underside or at the back of that car and not about the noses.

      2. Thats the most aggressive step but it looks better than the Ferrari and the Red bulls, no doubt.

      3. @ibuser I think they’re pretty much on a par. Looks forced unlike the Lotus one.

      4. From the side, it’s hard to tell. I actually like it.

      5. I think the centre has a more curved transition, like Force India for example. And the Ferrari is just ugly for the abrupt step, it’s because of the nose being short, stubby, flat, square and sharp. The actual nose of the Mercedes has some character at least (although I don’t like the swept back front wing supports combined with a pointy nose).

        1. * the Ferrari is NOT just ugly for the abrupt step

        2. Surely its the same difference as Art Deco and Art Nouveau, just a matter of taste. I prefer Deco myself so the new look looks great to me. If it is faster it will look even better.:)

      6. well i like force india’s stepped nose……design…

    3. Wow, that’s quite a ‘stepped’ nose…

      1. Very, I cant wait for the high def pictures so we can see whose is worse. Such a pity.

        1. That is by far the biggest step nose of all the teams! Wouldn’t this not only cause drag but also lift? So there would have to be something going on underneath it to insure that design contributes to downforce?

          1. It wouldn’t be the first time an F1 design team forgot to use common sense

    4. The nose looks like a weapon that could be used on those robot wars shows. Quite sharp. Looks quite similar to the Ferrari nose.

      1. Almost identical i would say from the photos we have.

    5. I’m starting to think Ferrari and Merc maybe onto something here and I’m actually fully supporting their designs. I think the Merc is going to come out super-competitive!!! Can’t wait!!!

      1. Agreed. I think the new look is modern and aggressive and I like it. I dont understand the reaction to them other than normal personal preferences. It makes the previous cars look old and out of date IMO. There have been far worse over the years.

        1. Personally I don’t like the look but I do know this…once we’ve seen a few races the cars of last year will be long forgotten and today’s cars will look more ‘normal’. Happens every year. Of course, having the Mac out there with a nose like last year’s might muddy that concept, but overall it seems like any time you look back at previous cars they look dated.

          1. I remember when Ferrari introduced the white livery for vodafone, I reacted against it as I thought it interfered with the glorious rosso corsa but when they changed it back I missed the white. Go figure.:) Winning cars always end up being beautiful.

    6. apart from the nose thats pretty much what tested at jerez bodywork wise underneath differant matter no surprizes really can it win ?

      1. Not at all the photos aren’t great but you can make out much smaller side pods. It’s hard to tell how undercut they are and how tightly packaged the rear end is with out getting a closer shot or one from above and the back. I think however it’s safe to say given the size of the side pods they will have a similar rear end to all the other teams. Looks like they have also gone for the lotus/mclaren etc etc gubbins filling in the region between the front of the side pods and the back of the front wheels/suspension underneath the front of the safety cell/step nose. Hard to tell if the front and rear wings are new though if they are not there will be new one by australia. The struts connecting the front wing to the nose are also new.

        1. I’m not Criticising the reader who sent in the photos by the way I wouldn’t expect $5000 camera quality photos from any one but a professional snapper. I and i’m sure everyone reading this website is very thankfull for them!

    7. The sidepods look lower, but apart from that and the nose, I can’t notice any obvious differences to the W02.

      1. see above :)

    8. These step nose F1 cars are what 1970s flared pants were to fashion.

      The The RedBull early on and Mercedes is late 1970s. Yuk. I reckon we will be poking gentle fun at these for cars for years decades to come.

      1. Flared pants kick ass.

        1. But catch a lot of wind when they do.

    9. The nose looks much flatter top and bottom than just about everyone elses so far, not a pretty looking thing and surely the largest most prominent step on the nose.

      Also did they have the elongated vertical planes on the front wing of last years car or is that new, looks similar to the ferrari in that respect.

      1. It looks a bit like FI have profiled their nose, with it sloping down between the two ridges on the sides.

    10. This is what we would get If Megatron was to be transforming into a race car.

    11. Wow, that’s a step and a half there. :O
      I bet I’m the only one of the opinion that it actually looks OK.

    12. The noses on these cars appear to be very dangerous. In a crash, all the force is concentrated a very small area at the point of impact.

      1. But it is a point of impact that is specifically designed to disintegrate and scatter to absorb as much energy as possible, so that the bulkhead behind it (ie. behind the step) stays intact.

        I’d say, since all teams will try to have as little weight in it as possible/needed, there will be little difference between last years, the McLaren, and others’ noses this year in how dangerous they are in a hit with a car.

        Possibly the McLaren is safer in a side collision near the cockpit/driver’s head, due to being a bit lower, but not much else.

      2. If only an educated and intelligent man like you worked in Formula 1. We would’ve had no fatalities in F1 for a long long time.

        1. Surely the only way to make motorsport truly safe is to ban it. If you propel an object of that weight at that speed it can never be totally safe. The modern cars are as safe as can be IMHO and if there is a problem with the new nose surely the finger has to be pointed at the rulemakers. As long as aero is king in F1 this is what will be produced. I agree with Ferrari that aero needs to be curtailed in favour of mechanical grip, that seems to be a better direction.

      3. Very good point, I didn’t think about it like that until now.

      4. You do know the entire point of the stepped nose was to lower the nose for safety reasons….

    13. Is that a Mclaren-2011-styled airbox I see…?

      1. How can you see that from that picture?

        1. just behind the main inlet there is a darker area, just behind where the camara is placed.

          1. Yep, that echos the W02 second gen cooling setup.

    14. From his picture we cannot really tell if there’s a ‘v’ shape in the nose or if it’s like the F12012 just yet.

      It’s very much like the W02, which I don’t have a problem with, as that was the most beautiful 2011 car in my opinion. Cannot wait to see how quick it is, sure hope it is!

      1. To me it looks closer to what FI have, but as you write, its hard to spot from these pictures / video

    15. Updated the story with a second image.

    16. NOOOOOO

      so dissapointed :(

    17. Mikkel Sørensen (@)
      17th February 2012, 11:08

      Am I the only one seeing a hole right beside Schumachers helmet?

      1. Mikkel Sørensen (@)
        17th February 2012, 11:12

        over the sidepod..

      2. No, I see something too… it’s a bit blurry though, so quite hard to tell just what it is :)

        1. What ever it is it wasn’t on the WO2, unless it’s simply a trick of the light but i don’t think it is the light.

      3. …think its just the headrest

        1. Nah under the wire line of the fence theres another dot above the side pod winglets. I assume you were refering to the black mark behind the helmet under the engine airbox which is definitely as you say simply the back of the cockpit.

    18. And I see they are still sporting the vent in the middle of the nose.

    19. I really need to see a front angle of this car, i think there is something interesting going on there instead of a step.

      1. It looks a bit as if the nose cone is both flatter, and narrower, than the rest of the tub (Impression also gleaned from having seen the teaser dark lit top view Mercedes released earlier this week that seemed to show a narrower nose cone).

    20. thats an odd looking and interesting exhaust (if it is an exhaust).

      Looks like a thin horizontal pipe. Or is it bodywork supposed to channel exhaust gases? Cant really tell from the pic.

      cant wait for the launch next week and some high res images.

    21. Bit disappointed to be honest. as they missed Jerez I was expecting more. Could be wrong until we see more pictures but still…

      1. Does look more refined than the W02 however.

    22. So thats it then, all stepped noses apart from McLaren. Really hope they are not too far out on that decision.

      I do understand the philosophy of their design but still a bit nervous that everyone else has gone the other way!

      1. You never know hrt and virgin may surprise I bet they wont but they might ;)

    23. It almost looks as though the nose tapers to a point.

    24. Looks like, it’s triangular shaped, like the bayonet on an old musket.

    25. The Side pods look really steap at the back and look slightly curved on top aswell, it seems the exhaust is placed directly under the air flow that would attach to this part of the car. The car also appears to be very low, the front wing also seems to be bent going round the corner which may suggest flexing. The front of the nose appears to be curved with the step being shorter in the middle than it does on the sides. It also appears to be very compact at the back an maybe a little short, be interesting to have a better look soon.

    26. Next to Ferrari Mercedes looks the worst of them all,still Lotus looks the best, Mclaren is on another planet.

    27. Gibo is driving (@)
      17th February 2012, 12:47

      Wow, looking at this latest on-board camera view, just realized that the driver can’t see where the car actually ends! That should make for some interesting starts this year..

      1. Last year that also was the case for most cars apart from McLaren, and drivers did comment on it (the McLaren guys saying they were glad they could see their nose, I think, for example).

        1. Gibo is driving (@)
          17th February 2012, 13:13

          You ‘re probably right, just this camera is much closer to driver’s eye level than what we were used to

          1. what really amazes me about that video is that even without full screening it i can read the steering wheel data perfectly it’s normally so blurry lol.

    28. Yes yes yes. More helmet cam footage please. Was it the end of 2008 when DC raced with one for all of 1/2 corners at Brazil? Seems to have cropped up in a few practice sessions and I think Giedo Van Der Garde had one in a GP2 race at Monza last year but otherwise has not been used anywhere near enough for my liking.

      Does anyone know if there is any particular reason holding it back?

        1. That’s fantastic.

          1. Great video – cheers for the link! As this was at the last race of last year can we optimistically interpret that as a sign of things to come this year?

      1. well driver helmets are aerodynamic devices Could be they don’t like to race with them because even the smallest camera could cause extra buffeting which would = extra stress on the neck over the course of a race.

        100% pure personal hypothesis though i’m afraid I really don’t know why they don’t because that’s what everyone wants to see.

        1. Its something FOM are working on, The one used on vettel’s helmet at brazil (and on barrichello’s in the race) was a trial.
          They were not totally happy with the angle, the view it gives is too narrow, the wider angle shot like in the Mercedes video is more what there after.

          Helmet cameras are surprisingly difficult to pull off, There are various problems with mounting the unit & then making sure the wires are not in the way & thats before you get the teams/drivers to actually agree to run them.

          Its not just in F1, You rarely see helmet cameras used anywhere because of these problems.

          1. Just to add.

            The reason we don’t see them used more often is that its a surprisingly difficult shot to get right. Yes we see it a lot during testing but thats often teams sticking a GoPro unit on the helmet for a lap or 2 just to get some footage. The one in the video above is a GoPro-HD unit, Its about the size of your average handheld digital camera & in no way suitable for use over a race weekend.

            During actual race weekends teams & drivers are funny about putting cameras on the helmets because they disturb the airflow, create a bit of drag & in some cases cause the helmet to move around more because of the drag.

            The one they used last year was a tiny unit which was placed in an aerodynamicly shaped plastic cover, However they struggled to get a decent angle with it which is why it wasn’t used too often & why it was taken off Vettel’s helmet after Friday.

            I said this before but its a shot thats surprisingly difficult to actually do, Thats why you hardly ever see them used.

            In terms of where you could put them,
            You can’t put them inside the helmet (As was done in CART) because of FIA safety regulations regarding how the helmets are put together (Can’t break the seals to run the cables through & there has to be a certain amount of padding etc….).
            You can’t put them at the side of the helmet because the visor tear-off’s are in the way & because they can get knocked off by the driver leaning his head into the cockpit padding.
            Your limited with putting them on top because there are 3 air vents which you can’t cover.

            I know there are many who go on about just sticking a camera on there, it cant be that hard. Trust me you can’t stick any camera on there (Has to be small enough, has to be live broadcast capable & work with FOM’s OnBoard recievers).

            To end, Its not something that isn’t done because FOM don’t want to do it. Helmet cameras are something FOM would like to do more of, Its just something thats never really fully worked out for a number of different reasons, Its not something we dont see through lack of want or trying.

            1. I love the way your Just to add was 3x as long as your original comment ;)

              kidding aside nice one that’s a pretty comprehensive answer from you GT_Racer and actually a bit sad. That shot from rosbergs helmet was beautifull and from what you’re saying it sounds like it will be years before we’ll get such a clear shot during a proper session let alone a race.

    29. Why does Nico have a map of a circuit beside the steering wheel? It’d be quite funny to imagine a driver thinking ” So is it a left from here or right, I wonder :) !!! ” But great onboard, pity the broadcasters dont get more creative with the onboard footage that we get to see on tv. Ditto for the radio chat between the driver and team.

      1. It’s for if they have to make any quick pit calls about anything, on track debries oil/water ground hogs broken down cars bottles strippers what evers out there. Also to give quick feedback about what the car is doing through a given corner. It’s easyer to quickly look at the map and say yes bottoming out at turn 9 rather than going oh blummin heck now i’m going through farm what was the previous corner where i had a problem whilst by then attempting to negotiate the village loop.

    30. I was hoping that Mercedes wouldn’t have gone down the stepped nose route, but alas it seems it will only be the McLaren not to have such an ugly nose.

      I know Marussia and HRT are still to launch their 2012 cars but they probably will have a stepped nose as well and besides they are going to be fighting at the wrong end of the field.

      I like variety in car design in F1 but the problem is if a concept proves to be fast all the other teams usually adapt it as soon as possible.

      Hopefully it will end up that there is not much performance difference between the two types of nose and in the future fewer teams will have stepped noses. Otherwise barring another regulation change we may end all F1 cars looking like this.

      I normally would like as many teams and drivers as possible to be evenly matched at the top and fighting it out for race wins and ultimately championships, however part of me would like McLaren to have a much faster car as it would increase the chance of other teams getting rid of steeped noses next year.

    31. Is it me or is the rear suspension set up really different to the other cars. The wishbones seem to connect halfway up the side of the car!

      1. Looks the same as what everyone else has got for rear suspension though on first looks i thought the same not sure why lol.

        1. The angle at which the top linkage goes to the rear wheel looks odd to me…
          But then again because its not black maybe thats why it looks wierd?! any thoughts… or am i talking out of my a***?

          1. well i had a look at a couple of different 2012 cars and from what we can see of the merc i reckon they are angled in the same manner. Take a look at this the top picture is the new mp4-27


            It looks like a similar setup to me. It could be the colour or maybe because of the actual angle that the merc has been foto’d making the suspensions angle look more exadjurated.

        2. err what happened to our comments? This is the second time in 3 days i have seen whole chunks of conversations go missing with out any modable reason.

          1. lol and now it’s back :P

    32. I don’t know what to make of the ‘stepped nose’ design as others have put it. I am wondering in McLaren’s case why they havn’t copied the rest of the teams with putting one on their new car, seems abit of a gamble. If their car turns out to be a rocketship on wheels then it will be looked at as a stroke of genius. If not, ouch!

    33. Great in car footage. It may just be the camera angle but that step must make the drivers lose a bit of perspective as to the distance to the actual front of the car. I can see the teams going through plenty of front wings this season!

    34. I certainly think McLaren have missed the boat on this one, rather than the conventional “stoke of genius” or “evolution of design” explanation doing the rounds everywhere.

      I do not believe that 11 other teams have missed on a design that is so obvious.
      If you are doing something different from everybody else, which goes against the conventional wisdom, then you are probably wrong – Law of Parsimony paraphrased.
      McLaren have be trying to explain their design route – evidence to me that their nose is more of a gamble, which they are nervous about.

      They cant hardly say we took a risk and got it wrong, can they? I expect the Mercedes and Ferrari to be more competitive than McLaren this season.

      1. Mclaren ran a much lower bulkhead/nose to anyone in 2010 and 2011, it didnt do them any harm then. They were beaten only by Redbull, whose car was superior in other areas.

        It’s just a different way of getting around the same problem. It’s not a game changer.

        And actually, as has been pointed out by one of the Mclaren designers, it’s every other team thats having to adapt their cars to the new nose regs, not Mclaren. So if anything, its in their favour.

    35. How can Mercedes be testing at all?

      1. It’s not testing as such… every team is allowed 100km of running for ‘filming’ purposes. They can only use demo tyres so it won’t give them particularly accurate and they often use it to ‘shakedown’ their car before starting the main testing programme

        1. …particularly accurate [data] and they often…

    36. I don’t understand why a lot of people assume that Mercedes have the biggest, or worst stepped nose, just because they’ve seen a side picture of it.

      From my view, I can see that it is clearly stepped, but it’s not a complete side view, it’s slightly diagonal, and the light on it is making it look worse than it is. Without closer inspection, it’s impossible to tell whether it’s a step similar to the of Ferrari and Sauber, or whether it’s more curved like those of the Red Bull, Force India and Toro Rosso.

      Obviously there’s no telling who is right at this stage, but I have a feeling it’ll be a more curvy design than that of the Ferrari, Sauber and Caterham cars we’ve seen.

    37. I’m gonna bet my money on McLaren this year. They have the most elegant design. ;)

      1. A car is as fast as it looks, so of course they’ll win :D. Although going by this theory, you have to wonder why not many teams having racing stripes…;)

    38. Oooh steering wheel cam! Me likey!

      1. Belly cam actually lol

    39. Cool of them to release a video like this – way better (and purer) than the ooh, aah, shadows, cue the techno music Red Bull stuff.

      And I don’t really get this ‘have McLaren missed something’ line of thinking – they’ve kept the nose low on their car throughout recent years and as far as I can tell only RB have been faster, so obviously both approaches can produce the fastest cars on the grid.

    40. Bit of a shame that the nose doesn’t look as elegant as the Lotus but performance beats looks I guess.

    41. After seeing these photos, I guess it’s official. The McLaren is the only one of the new crop without the “stepped” nose. It amazes me that they came up with (or are sticking to?) what surely must be a radically different front suspension geometry than any other team on the 2012 grid. Hope they got it right!

    42. Ok, everybody is talking about the nose, but what’s up with the shark fins? RBR had it,Ferrari had it etc.
      What has changed in regulations so now nobody has them?

    43. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Hell no it’s just the interpetation of F1’s new regulations. :)

    44. fantastic car…..hopefully the team will become the champion this year…

    45. I am not 100 percent sure but there is a new huge petronas poster near klia (malaysia main airport) it has a side profile of the w03 the front nose looks more arrow head like and much more nicer than the picture above. I saw it on my way to the airport in the cab. The slope is more shaped than the Ferrari

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