Judging from its poor showing at the Australian Grand Prix, the McLaren Mercedes MP4-19 won’t lead a race anytime soon, but another three-pointed star, emblazoned on the grille of the new Mercedes SLK 55 AMG safety car, will always be in front.

Judging from its poor showing at the Australian Grand Prix, the McLaren MP4-19 won’t lead a race anytime soon, but another Three Pointed Star, emblazoned on the grille of the new SLK 55 AMG safety car, will always be in front.

Launched at the recent Geneva Motor Show, the SLK 55 AMG made its first Formula One appearance this past weekend at Albert Park. The C55 AMG has been roped in to do duty as the official medical car to be used in the series.

Customised by AMG for its track incarnation, the SLK 55 AMG's 18-inch wheels have given way to 19-inch AMG light-alloy twin-spoke wheels and the chassis tuning firmed to handle the higher curve speeds.

Composite brake discs with six-piston brake calipers have been fitted up front, while at the rear, perforated steel brake discs with four-piston calipers have been fitted.

Specially-engineered channels direct cooling air onto the newly-developed discs. Despite the addition of extra equipment and accessories, including an extra water cooler and two engine oil coolers, the bulk has been reduced to about 1 370kg by using aluminium components.

The front and rear valances are made from a carbon-fibre laminate material and since the roof will not be opened, its mechanical and hydraulic folding systems have been removed.

The AMG 5,5-litre V8 remains the same, accelerating the SLK from zero - 100km/h in 4,9 seconds.