Team principal Ross Brawn says he feels Mercedes is going into its second season as a fully-fledged F1 team in a much stronger position than twelve months ago, with pre-season having gone 'as well as the team could have wanted'.
The new W02 endured a difficult start to testing but a series of upgrades introduced for the final session in Barcelona resulted in Michael Schumacher setting the quickest time of the week at Catalunya.
With Mercedes now in complete control of the team after purchasing the shares still owned by Brawn and his business partners, the team principal said the Brackley-based outfit was well set going into 2011.
"This year marks our second season as Mercedes GP Petronas, and the team has made real progress over this period,” he said. “With the support of Daimler, Aabar and our team partners, we are gaining strength from being a single entity and building the team that we want for the future.
"Our pre-season programme has gone as well as we could have wanted.
However, as always, the first race will be the real measure of where we are in terms of competitiveness. Everyone is eagerly waiting to see how the grid shakes out in Melbourne, and wherever we find ourselves, we will respond accordingly. Our ability to react strongly has improved considerably over the past twelve months and we have a robust development plan in place for the season. 2011 will be the second season with our drivers, Michael and Nico, and this continuity, together with our well-established relationships, has enabled both the drivers and team to prepare well for the challenges ahead.
"I believe that we can expect a very exciting season in 2011. The strategic battle is going to be fascinating with the Pirelli tyres, combined with the new adjustable rear wing and the return of KERS, increasing the challenges for the teams and drivers, and hopefully providing lots of track action for the fans.”