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February 24th, 2012
Ross Brawn has seen enough of his Mercedes team’s new car this week to be convinced it is a step forward over last year’s contender – but he does not think it is good enough yet to win Formula 1 races.
As the Brackley-based outfit prepares to wrap up its first full pre-season test, Brawn feels the W03 has delivered exactly what he had hoped for at this stage of the campaign.
“The important thing is that we don’t appear to have any core problems, we don’t appear to have any major issues,” he explained in Barcelona. “It seems okay and the car functions all right.
“Maybe something will come up that we don’t know about at the moment, but it seems to work okay and that’s great because we’re now starting work on the performance.
“We’re in a much better position than we were last year. So far, we have done over 2000 kms and we had done less than half of that at this stage last year. I think people can see that we have got something to work with.”
Brawn said the focus of the final test at Barcelona would be to eke out more speed from the car – ahead of the first race of the season in Australia next month.
But he played down talk that it could bring a package that would put it in a position to take the fight to Red Bull Racing and McLaren for victory in Australia.
When asked about where a win fits into the team’s equation, Brawn said: “It doesn’t yet. There’s still an awful lot to do and it’s too early to make any judgements.”
He added: “Both drivers are capable of winning. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. We have got to produce the car. I don’t think we have the car yet but it has been a good step over where we were 12 months ago.”
Brawn did feel that the team had improved on the tyre degradation issues that hurt its form at times throughout 2011.
“We are trying to find that balance of performance over a stint with tyre degradation. Do you push hard at the beginning and the tyre falls away, or do you try and conserve the tyres and keep a consistent lap time? What’s the actual quickest way of doing it, and what setu-p do you need to achieve that?
“When we come to the next test, we’ll spend a lot more time looking at that. But it’s not bad. It’s just probably not as good as we would hope, but it’s not bad. The thing we have to be careful is that Barcelona is an unusual circuit with a lot of fast right-handers and the grip is going up now. Probably, today is the first day that we’ve had some representative track temperatures.”