Norbert Haug has conceded that regulation change or not, Mercedes Grand Prix 'cannot expect' to be able to take the fight to F1 2011 pace-setters Red Bull Racing, McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari in this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone – as Michael Schumacher stresses the necessity to 'put our heads down and work our way through'.
Although its parent manufacturer is German, with the team being based in Brackley – just eight miles from Silverstone – the British Grand Prix is Mercedes' first 'home' outing on the F1 calendar, and a race in which Nico Rosberg last year took the chequered flag an excellent third.
Whilst not anticipating a repeat twelve months on, the 26-year-old is nevertheless hopeful that the FIA's impending clampdown on off-throttle blown-exhausts could play to the team's favour around what is now the second-longest circuit on the schedule – some 27 per cent longer than the original layout that staged the very first official F1 race back in 1950.
“Silverstone is a very cool track,” enthused the son of 1982 F1 World Champion Keke Rosberg. “I'm really looking forward to all the fast corners, especially from Copse through Becketts to Stowe. I finished third last year and I hope to have another good result, especially because so many of the people working at Brackley and Brixworth (home to Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines) will be there with their families.
“This is the first of our two home grands prix in July, so I want to give a good performance in front of our people. We will have a few new updates, and I'm curious to see how they will affect my car. Hopefully we can close the gap to the top a little bit.”
“Silverstone is one of our home races where we will be backed by everybody from the factories in Brackley and Brixworth, and therefore we would love to do well to thank them for their hard work,” echoed team-mate Schumacher, three times a former winner around the popular Northants track.
“However, with all the changes we have this season, it is difficult for me to judge how the track will suit our car. As always, we will probably only know more after the Friday practice sessions. We are in the process of developing further upgrades and new solutions, which I am confident will help us to take a step forward again. The message for all of us is to put our heads down and work our way through, and as we are all sharing this attitude, I am sure we will get there.”
With two 'home' races in swift succession with the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring only a fortnight after Silverstone, team principal Ross Brawn acknowledges that if there is any time for Mercedes to impress in F1 2011, it is indeed now – but the Stuttgart marque's motorsport vice-president Haug cautions that miracles do not happen overnight.
“Silverstone is always a special weekend for our team, with the home of the British Grand Prix being located so close to our factory in Brackley and to Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines in Brixworth,” reflected Brawn. “It's a great opportunity for our staff and their families to see the cars in action so close to home.