The F1 W03 was the third Silver Arrow of the new era, and like its two predecessors, it was driven by record F1 championship winner Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg. In the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix staged in Shanghai, Rosberg claimed not only a maiden pole position but also the first ever race win for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS. Between them, the Rosberg/Schumacher line-up made three podium appearances in the 2012 season.
The car concept was based on a largely stable set of technical regulations, which nevertheless include two significant changes: 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 F1 W03 project was begun in May 2011 and is the first full car produced by a technical team that was strengthened last year with recruitments at every level of the organisation. The car, which was composed of some 4,500 parts compared to 4300 parts in 2011, had nevertheless achieved a lower core weight than its predecessor, was better packaged and more efficient. All mandatory FIA crash tests had been successfully completed at the first attempt by the end of the first week of January 2012.