Nico Rosberg says he is hopeful that the Mercedes W02 will be the car to carry him to his maiden F1 victory on the back of an encouraging end to pre-season testing in Spain last week.
A series of updates fitted to the car for the final test prior to the opening round of the year in Australia saw a noticeable improvement in performance, with Rosberg's team-mate Michael Schumacher setting the fastest time of the week.
While he admits there is still more to come from the Mercedes package as the season goes on, Rosberg said he was hopeful of fighting for his first F1 win with the main target for the year being to improve on the results secured last year when the team ultimately failed to deliver what was expected at the start of the season.
“I hope so!” he replied when asked if the W02 is the car to take him to victory. “We are certainly looking much better this year and our main target is to improve on our performances from last year. We have a good platform to do that.
“We've made good progress over the four tests. It's perhaps been a more difficult winter than we expected but everyone has worked really hard and pushed on with the new upgrades so that we have the car that we want for the start of the season. We haven't got the fastest car yet but we are going in the right direction. The handling is better, the car has more grip, and is generally more fun to drive.”
Rosberg added that drivers can expect to play a more important strategic role during the year ahead thanks to changing regulations and the return of Pirelli as tyre supplier although he said the various changes made it difficult to predict what will happen in the season opener at Albert Park.
“It's always difficult to predict who is on top from the testing times but I think there will be a real battle in Melbourne,” he said. “The race strategy is going to be fascinating and the number of pit stops should make it really exciting for the fans.”