Mercedes’ W13 launch plans have been plunged into doubt by Storm Eunice, with high winds forcing the Silver Arrows to reshuffle their schedule to get Lewis Hamilton and George Russell acquainted with their 2022 F1 car. Both drivers were present, alongside team boss Toto Wolff, as Mercedes unveiled their new livery on Friday.
Hamilton’s return to the sport was made official at the Silver Arrows’ launch, with the Brit claiming that he ‘never said he was going to retire’.
He has a new partner for the upcoming season, with Russell firmly in position to make his debut as a fully-fledged Mercedes driver since replacing Valtteri Bottas.
And both drivers will compete in unfamiliar circumstances, with fresh regulations leading to new-look car designs and the FIA making several big changes to the way races are governed – most notably by ousting race director Michael Masi.
While things seemed to be coming together for the Silver Arrows team, Wolff revealed that Storm Eunice, which has prompted red weather warnings across the UK, has thrown a spanner in the works.
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“We’re going to unveil but I’m not sure we’re going to drive it with the current weather,” he told BBC Radio 4.
“It’s very different. The regulations have changed massively. It’s probably the biggest regulatory change in the technical field.
“The car looks very different, generates the downforce in a very different way. It’s very exciting.”
While the launch is an important spectacle for the fans, the Mercedes team may be most eager to get their new machine out on track for shakedown testing.
That was originally planned for February 18 at Silverstone, although ferocious winds have cast doubt on whether that plan is feasible or not.
It is a frustrating blow for the Silver Arrows, as Russell has stressed the importance of understanding and development for the upcoming season when it comes to which team will make the early running.
Red Bull faced a similar problem during their own shakedown test on Thursday, with only Max Verstappen able to get laps in while Sergio Perez was forced to miss out due to the adverse weather conditions.
Mercedes can look towards February 23 when they are due at Barcelona’s Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya if they cannot get laps in at Silverstone, and Wolff remains ambitious for the year ahead.
“We’re looking forward to racing, it’s what we love to do,” Wolff said during Mercedes’ W13 launch.
“It feels a little bit surreal that, as a team, we were able to achieve eight championships.
“Obviously, there was this shadow with the Drivers’ Championship, the Abu Dhabi situation.
“But let’s look into the future, we want to continue where we started but we have no sense of entitlement.”