Despite Mercedes having yet to seriously challenge the likes of Red Bull Racing and McLaren in its first year since replacing world champions Brawn GP, Nico Rosberg remains optimistic that the Three Pointed Star can stand atop the podium in 2010.
Although he admits that the WO1 has flaws that currently prevents it from running right at the front, the young German reports that improvements continue to be brought to successive races and, after third place in the recent British Grand Prix, is confident that he can challenge for another on home soil, at Hockenheim, this weekend.
"We have brought several upgrades to this race, so we should definitely perform better here," he told the official F1 website, "A podium finish is definitely our aim - we've done it in Silverstone, so we should also be able to do it here.
"Our main problem is still that the base of the car is not as good as we would have hoped so, with all changes, if the base is not 100 per cent right, it is difficult. What I see is that we are making the best out of the situation, and we are really pushing hard, so it should improve over the second part of the season. The main issues are still the same - they are mainly aerodynamic. There we need to progress and that's what we are doing, with a further development on the F-duct here for example. That should be a definite step forward, so let's wait and see how far it's getting us up on the grid."
Rosberg's third place, behind Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton, at Silverstone was a marked improvement on the tenth he took in Valencia - ironically, his only non-score of the season also came in Spain - and underlined the new parts Mercedes took to the British round. With an evolution of the F-duct on board for Germany, more is expected of both Rosberg and team-mat Michael Schumacher in front of their home crowd, even though the team struggled to get the best from the system in Friday's wet practice session at Hockenheim.
"As I've said, the basis of the car is not as good as we would have expected, so it's difficult to make a race-winning car out of that situation," Rosberg continued, "But we have done good work since then and, if we've done sensational work, the next couple of races will show it. Silverstone was promising with P3, but we are definitely looking to win races this season. There are still many points on the table so, from a purely mathematical point, everything
is still wide open."
Although Rosberg managed to salvage sixth place in the opening session, Schumacher struggled in 23rd position, before making progress in the drier second outing as the two Mercedes filled fifth and sixth places.
"Today was very much to check out how our upgrades are working and getting them sorted out," Rosberg told journalists at the end of the day, "I think we managed well with those things, so we are looking okay for the weekend.
"But we still need to wait and see. Today was not too bad, but a lot of things were a bit different because of the conditions and because you didn't have much running. We shouldn't put too much importance into the times and I still think we can do better than we did in Silverstone - or at least be the same type of level. I think we are going to have a good weekend.
"We started with a very, very wet track, so we had to fit the full wets. We got some good running in there, so we learned a lot if it rains for [Saturday]. I think we were very quick this morning - or, at least, I
was very quick this morning - so I'm very confident in those conditions. We got a few laps in on the intermediates, but it was very difficult with those. Then, in the dry, with the track still being a bit wet at the beginning [of the session], it was changing a lot and, considering that you also need to do high fuel running for the race, and trying to do everything in the one hour of dry running that we got at the end, it was difficult to do much with set-up work."