Nico Rosberg heads to this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix buoyed by his top three finish in Malaysia last time out, even as Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn admits that the W01 isn't quick enough.
Rosberg impressed throughout the Sepang weekend, claiming his first ever front row start alongside Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber before running third for the entire race distance after the other RBR entry of Sebastian Vettel seized the lead early on. The young German continues to outshine illustrious team-mate Michael Schumacher, and sits in a share of fourth place in the points standings after three races.
"Achieving my first podium with the team in Malaysia at the last race was fantastic, and I'm looking forward to continuing our consistent run of good results in China next weekend," Rosberg commented, "Shanghai is a good track which is an enjoyable challenge for the drivers. The two long straights provide some decent overtaking opportunities and there's a great mix of corners, particularly the high-speed sections. The weather will be colder in Shanghai than at the previous three races, and can be quite unpredictable, so it should be an interesting weekend."
Whether the cooler temperatures - which provided a change from the oppressive humidity that accompanied initial Chinese races before the 2009 date swap - will help Mercedes remains to be seen, with team principal Ross Brawn accepting that Rosberg's podium may have exceeded the car's potential at this point in the season.
"Achieving our first podium of the season with Nico was very rewarding, especially at the home race of our title partner Petronas, and was a timely boost for the team," Brawn noted, "On an operational level, the team has performed very well over the three races, and did a good job during Nico's race in Malaysia to record one of the quickest pit-stops of the season.
"The car has been reliable, with the exception of the wheel nut problem in Malaysia, and we've achieved a reasonable set of results which are in line with the car's current pace, but we have to be realistic and acknowledge that we are not quick enough to compete right at the front at the moment. This is obviously not a situation that we are happy with and we are working as hard as possible to close the gap."