It was good to finally see a 2018 car in the flesh, not only because it's been nearly three months of F1 silence but also thanks to new car launches these days being muted by the popular choice of on-line delivery.
Mercedes proved the exception on Thursday by literally rolling their fully working W09 in front of the media at Silverstone and getting just reward with more ink (on the British newspaper platforms at least) than all of the remaining teams put together. It's true that the presence of Lewis Hamilton will have raised the interest level but having something tangible to both see and hear added to a sense of occasion absent elsewhere.
Actually running a new car is always a risk, as anyone from the Beatrice-Haas Lola team will recall. After much fanfare during the early part of 1985, the car was finally unveiled at Brands Hatch in August (it was acceptable at the time to start part way through a season if so desired). Alan Jones set off from the pits and headed out onto the grand prix extension. The next time we saw him was when marshals pushed the stricken and silent car into sight at Clearways. The 15-minute wait allowed plenty of time for the watching media to compose waspish headlines.
As it happens, the W09 did experience a minor glitch on start-up, but this actually added to rather than detracting from the sense of anticipation as the light show and countdown began. Mercedes had obviously learned from last year when the on-track launch was affected by inclement weather as Storm Doris tried to do everyone a favour by blowing The Wing into the next county. This time, Mercedes were able to use the building's vast internal expanse to run the car from darkness and towards the waiting audience and cameras for live transmission on line.
Access was the key as photographers were able to shoot within reason and drivers and team members were available for interview. As a first for F1, and in a spirit of entente cordiale (or whatever the equivalent is in Italian), large screens laid on live coverage of the launch of what is likely to be the main rival to the reigning champions.