Mercedes-Benz is one of the last teams to unveil its race car for the 2012 FIA Formula 1 season, with the new W03 finally making its debut today at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.

On hand to present the car for the Mercedes AMG Petronas team were star drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.

The W03 has undergone an intensive program of simulation testing at the Mercedes F1 team’s technical bases in Brackley and Brixworth in the UK over the past couple of months.

This was followed by a private test day in Barcelona on February 19, during which the car ran for more than 220 miles with both Schumacher and Rosberg completing stints at the wheel.

Like most of the cars from rival teams, the W03’s design is based on a largely stable set of technical regulations, which nevertheless include two significant changes for 2012: revision of the maximum bodywork height at the front of the car, which encouraged the distinctive stepped-nose design, and new restrictions concerning the positioning of the exhausts, designed to prevent the aerodynamic benefit gained from exhaust gases during 2011, the so-called ‘blown diffuser’.

The car is composed of some 4500 parts compared to 4300 parts in 2011 yet has achieved a lower core weight than its predecessor, is better packaged, and more efficient. Its engine is a 2.4-liter V-8 engine designed and built by Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (formerly Mercedes-Ilmor, then High Performance Engines) in the UK.

Following the launch this morning, the W03 will complete eight full days of pre-season testing over the next two weeks at the Circuit de Catalunya before seeing its first competition at the 2012 Formula 1 Australian Gran Prix in Melbourne on March 18.

Mercedes AMG Petronas W03 2012 Formula 1 race car

Mercedes AMG Petronas W03 2012 Formula 1 race car