Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn has revealed the recent test at Barcelona was their best to date.
The Brackley-based outfit concluded the four-day test at the Circuit de Catalunya this week with the second best time overall, Nico Rosberg posting a 1m 23.168s lap, and that has certainly given them all some encouragement, even if team-mate Michael Schumacher was at the opposite end of the times.
“Barcelona was the final test with our launch specification car and we averaged nearly 500km per day, over 50 percent more than our daily average until that point of testing,” Brawn told the official Mercedes GP website.
“It was a good week and we used the opportunity to complete fundamental set-up work, develop our understanding of how to maximise the tyres over a single lap, and to improve our long-run performance. We successfully completed two race simulations with Michael and Nico at the first attempt, with the car finishing in good condition and without issues.
“It was certainly our best test to date. We have made continued progress since the launch of the MGP W02 in Valencia. The reliability of the car is now better and our upgrade package is coming together well, ready to be on the car for the fourth and final pre-season test in Barcelona [next week].”
Mercedes have struggled with overheating issues since launching the MGP W02, but Brawn is confident that this will not be an issue once the season starts in Australia.
“The biggest challenge for us so far has been a cooling problem. The short-term modifications that we made to the launch-specification car cost a reasonable amount of performance. The solution has been incorporated into the bodywork design for our upgrade package and will recover that performance before the first race," he explained.
“We are well aware of the pace of our current car, the distance to the current front runners and the reasons for this, which include the compromises brought about by our cooling issues.
“Our intention was always to launch the car in a fairly basic specification to allow more time to focus on the upgrade package. This inevitably means that we look further off the pace than people might expect.
“Knowing all of the facts, I am comfortable with our current position and the developments that we have to come.”
So will they be able to compete at the top in Melbourne then?
“It's still too early to say but I am sure everybody will know more after the final Barcelona test," Brawn added. "We have a very good base to build on. Our team is progressing very well and the Silver Arrow is coming together.
“Our target remains to take a step forward compared to last year and to compete with the best.”