Team boss Ross Brawn has revealed that Michael Schumacher's struggles during the 2010 F1 season can be partly attributed to the fact that the team wasn't able to make use of a top driver simulator to aid the German in his comeback.
While the likes of McLaren and Ferrari have been able to employ simulators for drivers to use away from the race track, Mercedes doesn't have such a facility in place at its Brackley base although one is currently under construction and should be ready in time for 2012.
However, Brawn insists that Schumacher would have got up to speed quicker had he been able to use a simulator last year with the seven-time champion having struggled to make an impact after his time away.
"Probably,” he replied when asked by Auto Motor und Sport
if a simulator would have helped Schumacher. "He would have been able to work much more on the behaviour of the tyres. That we do not have a top simulator was certainly not a help.
“[Our simulator] won't be fully operational before 2012. We should make a big step with it over the winter. This technology cannot be bought on the market.”
Brawn added that it was difficult to predict if 2011 will be a better season for Schumacher because of changes taking place in the sport over the winter – most notably the switch from Bridgestone tyres to Pirelli.
"We need a new car and the new tyres and then we can make an honest judgement,” he said. “I'm optimistic.
"They are different tyres. When there was the change from Michelin to Bridgestone a few years ago, many drivers had problems, including top guys like Alonso. The change to Pirelli will be similar and whether it plays into the hands of Rosberg or Schumacher is difficult to predict."