Ross Brawn has revealed that – much like its predecessor – Mercedes Grand Prix's new MGP W02 is bedevilled by a frustrating lack of consistency, to such an extent that 'the drivers don't quite know what car they are going to have each time they enter a corner'.
Following a distinctly troubled birth, Mercedes' F1 2011 contender appeared to take a quantum leap forward in the performance stakes in the final pre-season group test around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya just under a month ago, with multiple world champion Michael Schumacher even topping the week's timesheets.
That raised expectations substantially ahead of the Australian Grand Prix curtain-raiser in Melbourne, but qualifying yielded just seventh place for Nico Rosberg, with Schumacher failing even to make the top ten shoot-out at all and starting eleventh.
As doubts increasingly surfaced, both drivers lamented set-up woes and a lack of rhythm from the car – and the race ended in disaster, with 'Schumi' being tagged on the opening lap and ultimately retiring as a legacy of that 18 laps later, and his countryman similarly departing the fray shortly afterwards as a result of finding himself on the receiving end of an inadvertent sideswipe from Rubens Barrichello.
It was not, concedes the Brackley-based outfit's team principal Brawn, a glittering way to begin proceedings – but whilst there is no immediate solution in sight, the Englishman is adamant that nor is there currently any panic to rush through developments in an effort to vault Rosberg and Schumacher up the grid.
“We took an approach over the winter which culminated in the final spec of car in Barcelona [testing],” he explained. “Barcelona is a track that we've never been super-strong on, but the car was very good there.
“We came [to Melbourne] with reasonable confidence that we could do a good job, but we had a very messy weekend. Cars these days have got a lot of interesting systems, and we had a job keeping everything running, which meant we didn't do the fundamental work of getting the car balanced and finding the right set-up. It was a disappointing weekend, and we should have been able to do better than we achieved.
“The problem we have got is that the drivers don't quite know what car they are going to have each time they enter a corner – the inconsistency is the thing that makes it difficult for them. We have had difficulties with a number of systems on the car. There are a number of things that got messy over the weekend, and the main difficulty is that drivers and engineers have not had a consistent enough car to work on.
“There are a series of upgrades planned, but what we have got to focus on is using what we've got already. The fundamentals are there and we've got to get everything to work well together over a weekend, and then we can show a much stronger performance.”