Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug has conceded that should Mercedes Grand Prix continue to underachieve in 2011, 'we may have to change some people'.
As the reigning double F1 World Champions – having bought out Brawn GP last winter – Mercedes has endured a crushingly disappointing title defence this year, with not so much as a sniff of victory, just three podium finishes from the opening twelve grands prix and now having to fight a rearguard battle to stave off rival Renault for fourth spot in the constructors' standings rather than taking the fight to the likes of pace-setters Red Bull Racing, McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari ahead.
Having already ceased development on the underperforming MGP W01 in favour of shifting all efforts onto its successor, Haug has admitted that if the Brackley-based outfit is not back in the fight for world championship glory this time next year, then there will inevitably be consequences.
“We hope to return to success,” the German told Italian magazine Autosprint
. “However, if we fail to achieve the goals we have set, we may have to change some people – that's the name of the game in F1.”
Whilst both Nico Rosberg and struggling F1 legend Michael Schumacher are not deemed to be in the firing-line, the latter's former sparring-partner Gerhard Berger has mused that the 91-time grand prix-winner is running out of options as he desperately seeks to make a success of his troubled comeback to top flight competition following three years away from the grid.
“You can't forget Michael is still a seven-time world champion, and we should all be happy that he is competing again,” the Austrian told Auto Motor und Sport
. “However, in the last few races I haven't been pleased with him at all, as he has been taking more steps back than forward. He has tried several strange tricks to gain points, and they have all come to nothing. Maybe he is putting himself under too much pressure.
“The incident in Budapest with [Rubens] Barrichello was simply not on. Ten years ago that might have been seen as a normal move, and we could have all got up to things like that – myself included. However, there is absolutely no place in the sport for that now – pushing someone into the wall. With all of his experience alone, Michael must have known that.”