Though the rules have changed little since last year - the biggest changes being the introduction of the Halo device and the power unit allocation dropping to just three for the season - in a new video Mercedes technical director James Allison points out some of the differences between this year's W09 and its predecessor.
As Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas set the pace at Barcelona, Allison admits that one of the areas where the team appears to have stolen a march on its rivals is its sidepods, the new design said to be worth around 0.25s a lap alone.
"The biggest change is down here," explains Allison. "We've done an awful lot of work down there to try to make that car really, really slender.
"If you compare it to the 2017 car, you can just see the difference," he continues. "You can see that the bodywork bulges out around about where the engine and exhaust pack is. On the new car this is a much, much more slender thing.
"It doesn't look like much of a difference," he admits, "but actually when you add it all up it is something like a quarter of second just there. It was actually a huge amount of work.
"A lot of hair got lost in that project," he laughs, "but the end result is something that is pretty to look at but also much more importantly is an awful lot quicker.
"Across the entire car, across every part of its surface, we've made it new," reveals the Briton. "We've found different ways of doing it. We have found improved way of getting downforce and performance into the car. Each one of them is small in isolation but they add up in their totality to something that is enormous.
"Last year's car was the quickest one out there. It won more races than any other and it was of course the championship winner. But last year's car would be utterly hopeless, it would be blown away by this one because of all that work by all those people over an entire year making modifications at every level. All of them are small but all of them are accumulating to a huge end result and a car that is just much, much faster."