There may be a compulsory downing-of-tools over the next fortnight, but Norbert Haug has urged all those at Mercedes Grand Prix to keep pushing in pursuit of the performance that has frustratingly eluded the defending double world champions thus far in F1 2010 – as he insists that given time, 'we have the ingredients to succeed'.
Having seemingly been hurt this season in much the same way as habitual front-runners McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari were hurt last season for having had to keep on developing its car right up until the very last race the previous year as it fought for – and successfully claimed – title glory in the guise of predecessor Brawn GP, Mercedes has yet to come even close to replicating that kind of form to-date in 2010.
A trio of podiums for star driver Nico Rosberg and seventh spot in the points standings for the highly-rated young German are as good as it gets at the moment, and the least said about record-breaking legend Michael Schumacher's off-colour comeback, the better.
Worse still, not only do victories look as far away as ever this season for the reborn Silver Arrows 'works' team half a century on from its original incarnation, but a buoyant Renault is fast closing in for fourth place in the constructors' chase – leading Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Haug to conclude a mid-term verdict of 'must try harder'.
“Of course we are not where we want to be,” the German acknowledged. “Currently we are certainly not good enough, that is very clear, but I'm absolutely convinced that we need some time and that we can really improve and make the best out of the situation. Ross [Brawn – team principal] and the team know what they're talking about – it's very clear that they had a world championship campaign last year and were very much concentrated on that. In a way it's the name of the game in F1.
“Still we do not have a bad car, but things do not fit together always 100 per cent; that's my view, and sometimes you get it better, sometimes you don't achieve your targets. We have the expertise and the ingredients to succeed, as we have the team. We need to work concentrated, focussed and we are sticking together as a team – if you're not doing that then you are very soon history.”
It is anticipated that barring one final update to the MGP W01 for the Singapore Grand Prix at the end of next month, the Brackley-based outfit will cease development on its underperforming challenger in favour of henceforth switching its efforts to next year's contender instead. And having failed to adequately get a grip on three of 2010's key innovations – the McLaren-pioneered F-duct and Red Bull-inspired exhaust-blown rear end and downforce-boosting flexible front wing – one factor that will be pivotal in 2011 is being on the ball and on the pace right from the word 'go'.
“We put some extra instrumentation on the car [in Hungary] to get a better understanding of what's going on,” Brawn explained of the team's troubled diffuser addition, which caused overheating issues on its Valencia debut but appeared to be producing the required effect when Rosberg ascended the rostrum at Silverstone a fortnight later, only to betray weaknesses once more at Hockenheim.
“We can see some of the areas which are still not functioning properly, and we can see the areas that are okay. The problem we had at Hockenheim was really that the exhaust heat was affecting some areas [of the car] and allowing them to distort, losing performance – so we left that floor behind [for Hungary] and it's being redesigned and remade in time for Spa.
“We can see that the F-duct style rear wing we still haven't completely solved, and in parallel with that we're finding some little improvements – some new rear brake ducts, and there are various changes coming along in parallel with that – but the two major technologies we need to get on top off, the F-duct and the blown diffuser, we are still not completely there.
“Obviously what's being demonstrated now in fact has been demonstrated all year, but what has become more acute is the lower front ride heights and the low front wing heights that particularly Red Bull have been able to achieve. We have to work out how we're able to do that, because that could be a very significant advantage.”