Mercedes returned to Formula 1 in 2010 after a 55-year break, to high hopes all round. It took over the champion Brawn GP team and lured seven-time F1 world champion Michael Schumacher out of retirement to join the talented Nico Rosberg. Now all it needed was a car to make it a winner again.
In truth, this long-awaited comeback didn't bear fruit straight away, with only three podiums for Rosberg in 2010 and none at all in '11. Despite Mercedes' hugely experienced staff and the advantage of having its own engine plant in nearby Brixworth, it was time to step performances up a notch.
Taking advantage of a relatively stable set of regulations, 2012's Mercedes F1 W03 was largely based on the previous car, the MGP W02. But there were two significant regulatory changes that did affect the 2012 cars.