German F1 driver Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg unveil the W03 2012 challenger during day one of Formula One winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on February 21, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.
Michael Schumacher looked forward to being a contender again as his Mercedes team belatedly pulled the wraps off its shiny new Formula One car before testing at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya yesterday.
If the F1 W03 was far from attractive, with the by-now familiar stepped nose seen on all the other 2012 cars with the sole exception of McLaren, the sport's most successful driver declared it a beautiful moment.
"I have done quite a few roll-outs and launches of new cars, but even after all these years, I must say it still feels special," said the seven-time champion.
The German and teammate Nico Rosberg had both driven 50km in the car last week for a filming day at Silverstone but had used their 2011 car at the first pre-season test in Jerez last month.
Mercedes' main rival Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari all unveiled their new cars before the start of the first of three tests scheduled before the 20 race season kicks off in Australia on March 18.
"Days like this are precious moments, as they are always filled with hope and anticipation," Schumacher said. "Already last week, when we were driving the F1 W03 for the very first time, it instantly gave us good feedback and sensations.
"Starting today, we will work intensively to make it a competitive runner," added the 43-year-old, who started his comeback in 2010 after retiring as a Ferrari driver in 2006.
"Obviously, we will only see over the next couple of weeks how big the step is that we have made... For my part, I am eager to fight again, looking forward to the new season, and I can't wait for it to begin."