The Brawn GP team has admitted that it needs to keep up the level of performance it showed in Bahrain if it is to keep ahead of the opposition when the European leg of the Formula One season gets underway in Barcelona this weekend.
After taking the unaware by surprise after winning on debut in Australia, then backing up its Melbourne 1-2 with further wins for Jenson Button in Malaysia and Bahrain, the Brackley operation heads both championship tables, but admits that it is not as far ahead of the field as perhaps it was at the season-opener. Red Bull Racing broke its victory duck with Sebastian Vettel in China, while Toyota - seeking its own maiden success in F1 - and others, such as McLaren and Williams, remain viable threats as the series heads to familiar territory closer to home.
Brawn GP completed a four-day test at the Circuit de Catalunya as part of its meagre preparation prior to the start of season, but eponymous principal Ross Brawn admits that, with the chasing pack on its heels, his team needs to keep working hard both on track and back at base.
"The short break which we have enjoyed since returning from Bahrain has enabled the whole team to regroup and spend a little time reflecting upon our first four races," he noted, "The team had to make a tremendous effort simply to have two cars on the grid for the first race in Melbourne and the success that we have achieved has been a well-deserved reward for all our staff for their hard work.
"Jenson, Rubens and the team delivered a first class job to win the Bahrain Grand Prix, which is the level of performance that we must sustain if we are to seriously challenge for the championships this year. The field has compressed considerably since the season-opening race in Australia and the performance margins at the front are now very tight indeed."
Brawn confirmed that there had been no let-up in Brackley since the race cars rolled out for the first test of the season, and expected to introduce its first developments in Spain.
"Whilst we have been away racing over the past few weeks, the factory has been working extremely hard on our upgrade package for the BGP 001," he revealed, "We look forward to seeing the results of our development work on track in Barcelona this weekend."
Button, meanwhile, is looking forward to taking the car out on track from Friday, confident that the basic package would again prove to be suited to the Circuit de Catalunya.
"Although the team only completed four days of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in March this year, I know the track inside out and it feels very familiar to be heading back there for the start of the European season," he claimed, "You need to have a car with good downforce for a really quick lap there, and we are fortunate that our car behaves so predictably, which enables you to feel completely confident when committing to high-speed corners."
Like Brawn, however, the Briton knows that, having been pushed hard by Vettel in Bahrain last time out, the team needs to raise its game at least in line with its rivals if its to remain competitive.
"I visited the factory last week to join the team for a small celebration of our successes to date and catch up on the progress with our latest developments, but we know that we have a real fight on our hands from here to maintain our lead in the championships," he said, "However, I am confident that we are well prepared for the challenges ahead."