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2011-12-06 08:32

LATE DEBUT: Team Mercedes hopes to move up the F1 grid but will leave it until a few weeks before the season-opening Australian GP to launch its 2012 cars.


Mercedes will delay the track debut of its 2012 Formula 1 car until the second test of the season in Barcelona on February 21, less than a month before the season's opening race in Australia.

Mercedes has also announced that its official team name will change to Mercedes AMG Petronas to bring in Mercedes-Benz performance brand AMG.

AMG already supplies the sport with both the pace and medical cars and Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug said there would be a technology transfer between the partners.


Team principal Ross Brawn: "At the factory, we have been focused for some time on the challenge of 2012, and our very clear ambition to move forward up the grid next year. As always, the winter development and manufacturing processes are a trade-off between time for finding performance in the factory and time for delivering that performance during pre-season testing.

"We believe the decision to run the car at the second winter test is the optimum compromise for our design and development programme."

Under new rules for 2012, cars can take part in testing only when they have passed the mandatory FIA crash tests. That means teams have to decide whether to maximise development and miss testing or get in as much track time as possible while signing off the design process earlier than they might have wished.


Mercedes finished the 2011 season fourth overall with German drivers Nico Rosberg and multiple World champion Michael Schumacher. Rosberg has yet to win a race; Schumacher hasn't been on a podium since he began his comeback in 2010 after three years out of the sport.

The new season will start in Melbourne on March 18 so Mercedes will have only eight days of testing before heading for Australia.

Mercedes team CEO Nick Fry said: "It's not a big problem, it's a very deliberate decision on our part for a variety of reasons. The first is giving ourselves the maximum amount of time to develop performance and, because the two tests are two weeks apart, we believe we are better off spending that additional time on developing the performance side.

"Most of the top teams are now very good at simulation," he added. "You can rest assured that before the car hits the track we will have done a substantial amount of work at the factory, rig testing the car in its entirety, rig testing parts and also working on the driver in the simulator."

Fry, who helped steer the Mercedes team's predecessor Brawn GP to both 2009 titles, pointed out that Brawn had minimal testing and still came out with a world-beater.

"We think the time is better invested in development than driving on the track in the first test," he said.

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