Mercedes Grand Prix team principal Ross Brawn has insisted that he is satisfied with the progress the Brackley-based outfit has made in the first two pre-season tests for F1 2011.
Testing at Jerez recently was decidedly mixed and while Michael Schumacher did set the pace on the second day and was also third fastest the following day, team-mate Nico Rosberg had a tougher time. Indeed he was only ninth and seventh fastest on his two days of running after a few technical problems.
“The second pre-season test in Jerez was extremely useful," Brawn insisted in an interview with the official Mercedes GP website. "Our priorities at this stage are improving the reliability of the new car, working with the KERS system, and developing our understanding of the Pirelli tyres.
“Both Michael and Nico immediately felt comfortable in the car and this remains the case. Michael had the better of the reliability in Jerez where he completed 226 laps in total, and this has provided us with a wealth of data to study prior to Barcelona.
“Nico was slightly unfortunate with the issues that we faced on his running days but still achieved some good work and will have better days to come in Barcelona and Bahrain.”
Asked about the 'issues', Brawn admitted the team has suffered more mechanical woes than he would have liked. Although he is confident they can sort them out.
“Reliability is our main challenge at the moment,” he continued. “Although we have completed the third highest mileage of any team with our new car - a total of 2310km, our level of reliability is not where it needs to be yet.
“It's the normal pre-season process really [though], checking the components, ensuring that everything works together, with the added challenge of KERS and the new tyres. We have experienced our share of teething problems with the MGP W02 but we have solutions in the pipeline to resolve them.”
Brawn also reiterated that at this stage the MGP W02 is very much a work in progress, with a major aero update due before the opening race of the season in Bahrain.
“We made a deliberate decision towards the end of last year to have a very 'plain' car for the first tests and a significant upgrade for the first race in Bahrain. With the Pirelli tyres, and the return of KERS, we wanted to make sure that our new car was ready for the first test and this was certainly the correct decision.
“The final features for the Bahrain upgrade were confirmed recently and we are comfortable with the performance step that these developments will bring. Our current package includes some compromises, and we know that there is more performance to come from the car,” he summed-up.