(REUTERS) - Mercedes on Friday (Feb 18) took the wraps off their 2022 Formula One challenger, which they hope will allow Lewis Hamilton to take back the drivers' crown while also steering the team to an unprecedented ninth straight constructors' championship.
At the same time, the seven-time champion insisted that while he had "a difficult time", he had never considered walking away.
"I never ever said I was going to stop," said the 37-year-old Briton, speaking publicly for the first time since a post-race broadcast interview following his Abu Dhabi title defeat.
Mercedes' new W13 has been designed to F1's radical new rules aimed at improving wheel-to-wheel racing and features the cleaner, swept-back aerodynamics and bigger 18-inch wheels of the new era.
The car, which will be driven by Hamilton and new teammate George Russell who moves up from Williams, also has the return of Mercedes' traditional silver livery after the team ran a black colour scheme in a stand against racism for the last two seasons.
"The hopes are, first of all, that we have a competitive car," said team boss Toto Wolff.
"We don't know whether we're even in the hunt for another title.
"My hope is that the car goes fast and that Lewis and George are happy with how it drives and that would be a good starting point."
Mercedes have dominated the last rules era which began with the introduction of the turbo-hybrid power units in 2014.
They have won every constructors' title since and would have completed a clean-sweep of title doubles but for a controversial safety car restart at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which allowed Red Bull's Max Verstappen to pass race-leader Hamilton on the last lap and deny him an eighth title.
"It's a little bit surreal that as a team we were able to achieve that eight times in a row," said Wolff.
"Obviously there was this shadow with the drivers' championship, Lewis' championship, the Abu Dhabi situation, but let's look into the future."
The safety car bungle claimed the job of race director Michael Masi, who altered the restart rules and moved only the lapped cars between Hamilton and Dutch rival Verstappen out of the way, with the governing FIA announcing changes to its race refereeing procedure on Thursday.
It also sparked speculation about Hamilton's future.
"It was obviously a difficult time for me and it was a time where I really needed to take a step back," he said.
"I eventually got to a point where I decided I'm going to be attacking again coming into another season."