Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport fired up its 2018 challenger for the first time earlier this week, ahead of an official launch and shakedown at Silverstone later this month. On Feb. 22, the team will take W09 EQ Power+ out for a spin on the circuit, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas behind the wheel.
“The moment when a thousand years worth of working hours are put to the test. This is the moment that starts everything, the moment we’ve all been waiting for…” Hamilton tweeted prior to the start of the engine.
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff gave a few hints about the team’s expectations for the season in a Q&A, in addition to talking about last year’s car, which was a bit of a “diva” by most accounts.
“It’s never going completely seamlessly or smoothly because, as a matter of fact, you are trying to push the boundaries, make the cars as light as possible and, eventually, as quick as possible,” Wolff said in an interview. “So we’ve had a good winter, I would say, no real drama, but there is always stress within the organization at that time of the year.”
Most of the buzz about the Mercedes F1 team for the past few days has centered on rumors about Hamilton’s F1 future, as his old team, McLaren F1, watches his negotiations with Mercedes. Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes expires at the end of 2018, but Mercedes expects him to stay with the team.
“Lewis has become such an important pillar within the team that it is a no-brainer that we continue with each other,” Wolff said in January. “The discussions are ongoing and very positive. It is just a matter of time before we seal it and put a signature to the document.”