Mercedes go back to black for the new Formula One season

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team have reverted to a black livery for the new Formula One season.

Hamilton and team-mate George Russell took the wraps off their latest machine at the team’s Silverstone launch on Wednesday.

Hamilton, 38, recorded his worst championship finishing position in F1 last year after the Silver Arrows failed to master the sport’s new regulations.

But the grid’s once-dominant team will hope the move back to black – colours which carried Hamilton to a record-equalling seventh title in 2020 – will take them back into championship contention.

Hamilton encouraged Mercedes to paint their car black for the 2020 and 2021 campaigns to send out a defiant anti-racism message.

But the move to drop their traditional silver livery for the new season is this time for performance reasons.

“We were overweight last year,” said team principal Toto Wolff. “This year we have tried to figure out where we can squeeze out every single gram. So now history repeats itself.

“The car has some raw carbon bits, along with some that are painted matte black.

“Of course when we changed the livery in 2020, the main driving factor was to support the diversity and equality causes which are always close to our heart.

“The colour black became part of our DNA at that point, so we are pleased to return to it.”

Hamilton lost his record of winning at least one race in every season of his career – a streak which stretched back to his debut campaign for McLaren in 2007 – when finishing sixth in last year’s standings, 214 points adrift of runaway winner Max Verstappen.

And at the final round in Abu Dhabi, the British driver said he was looking forward to consigning his under-performing Mercedes to history.

“I have been here a long time,” Hamilton said ahead of his 11th season with Mercedes and his 17th in all as an F1 driver.

“I continue to love racing and that is never ever going to change. It is part of my DNA and I always believe I can get better.

“I love the challenge of the mental and the physical elements, of having to deep dive, and see how I can extract more performance from me, the people around me, and the car that is constantly evolving.

“There is always a new log-book and new tools that you have to get used to, and I love that so I am planning to stay a little bit longer.”

Hamilton and Russell – who claimed his first victory and Mercedes’ sole win of last season at the penultimate round in Brazil – will get their first proper taste of this year’s machine during three days of testing in Bahrain next week before the curtain-raiser, also in the Gulf Kingdom, on March 5.

“I freaked myself out the other day,” Hamilton continued. “There are almost 8billion people in the world, and there are only 20 of us that get to drive in F1 and only two of us that drive for this team. We are privileged beyond measure.

“With all the difficulties we had last year, we are all anxious to get out there and see how it behaves and see where everyone else is.

“We see the pictures of people launching their cars, and you start to zoom in and see what they have got, but we won’t find out until next week what everyone has got up their sleeves.”

Russell, 25, who impressively outscored Hamilton last season, is set for his second campaign with the Silver Arrows.

“We are all here to win,” he said. “It is as simple as that.

“We need to go out there and see the challenges we are faced with, but the team has put so much hard work into this car.

“The motivation and the fire at the factory is immense because people don’t want a repeat of what happened in 2022 so we are ready for it and motivated to get out there and fight.”

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