Valtteri Bottas gives the 2018 Mercedes-AMG W09 Formula One car its first shakedown laps at Silverstone. Picture: RV Motorsport via Mercedes-AMG F1

Silverstone, Northamptonshire - The 2018 Mercedes-AMG W09 Formula One car has broken cover for the first time with a few shakedown laps ahead of its official launch on Thursday afternoon.

Mercedes used one of its permitted filming days - each team is permitted 100 kilometres of track time on each of two days before the start of official testing, for shooting promotional videos - as a shakedown run, as Valtteri Bottas took the new car out for a few laps of a cold and overcast Silverstone on Thursday morning.

Bottas’ first run was a bust - the car only got as far as the pit apron in front of the garage when it shut down and the technicians pushed it back into the garage, but some time later it was started again again and went out onto the circuit for a series of test laps.

'The main difference is in the detail'

The new W09 looks very similar to the 2017 W08; team principal Toto Wolff commented: “. You can't point at one thing, but what is visible is how narrow and tight the packaging is.

“You can't copy other cars – we try to keep our own design philosophy.

"We hope that we keep the good character traits of the W08," he added, "but she was a diva, she was difficult to understand, so with the W09 we try to find more speed and more drivability."

2018 Mercedes-AMG W09 Formula One car goes out on the track for the first time. Picture: Steve Etherington / Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Wolff was not, however, impressed with the cockpit halo which all F1 cars will wear from this season to protect the driver from flying debris.

“If you give me a chainsaw, I would take it off,” he said. “We need to look after the drivers' safety but what we have implemented is aesthetically not appealing.

“We need to tackle that and come up with a solution that looks better. It's a massive weight on top of the car, you screw up the centre of gravity massively with that thing.

“As much as it's impressive to look at the statistics that you could put a bus on top, this is a Formula One car.”

Bottas was due to hand over the car Lewis Hamilton after the official launching ceremony, so the defending champion could also get a feel for the W09, with which he will be chasing a fifth world title.

IOL Motoring