Auto racing: Mercedes reveals F1 car to Schumacher's delight
AP Auto Racing Writer
VALENCIA, Spain — Formula One team Mercedes GP revealed its 2010 race car Monday, with Michael Schumacher driving for the first time in three years.
The former Brawn GP team rolled out its W01 car at Valencia's Cheste Circuit, with Nico Rosberg kicking off the three-day testing by setting the third-fastest time before a break.
Seven-time F1 champion Schumacher, 41, who this year makes his return following a short retirement, earlier posed for photographs with the new car alongside Rosberg while nodding his head in delight.
While Schumacher was out running his first laps since the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix, fellow German driver Rosberg gave a positive impression of the car — which last year helped Jenson Button to the championship and Brawn GP to the constructors' title — from 39 laps.
"There are so many new circumstances that I cannot feel is it a winner or is it not a winner. It generally felt very good but impossible to be sure of how the performance is by now," Rosberg said, putting emphasis on how the ban on refueling will shape the new season. "In recent years you would have a better impression, but now with the fuel level you really don't know what other people are running either."
Rosberg, who was just under half a second back of Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, said he felt "at home" with his new team after four years at Williams.
"Honestly it felt really similar, it was a really nice feeling," said Rosberg, who added that the biggest change was adapting to the physical quirks of a new car.
Aside from the new silver-and-green livery, the most notable change to Mercedes' first F1 car in more than 50 years was the nose section, which features its own take on a configuration begun by Red Bull last season.
Once both drivers adapt to the car, they will also have to work together, with Rosberg already motivated by Schumacher's arrival.
"It has given me a little bit extra motivation I must say, just that little touch extra to have him there," Rosberg said. "I get on well with him for now and he respects me also and I respect him, so it's good. I think we can get on very well and be very good teammates."