Mercedes Grand Prix might have taken 'a small step forward' and be heading 'in a good direction' following the opening day of practice at the Nürburgring today, according to drivers Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, but team principal Ross Brawn admits that finding 'a little more lap time before qualifying' wouldn't go amiss, either.
On a characteristically cool and overcast day in the Eifel Mountains, Rosberg completed 65 laps and Schumacher 62 – the equivalent of more than two full race distances – as the pair further developed and refined the new aerodynamic package brought to the MGP W02 at Silverstone a fortnight ago. On a trouble-free day for the team, both lapped well and consistently throughout, winding up respectively fifth (Schumacher) and sixth.
“I'm quite happy with the work that we achieved today, and we are going in a good direction,” affirmed 'Schumi' five times a previous winner at the Nürburgring, although – barring particularly unusual circumstances – unlikely to add to that tally this weekend. “We are continually developing our car, and days like today help that process.
“It's difficult to see the real picture for the weekend, however; we don't know what fuel loads the other cars were running, and we need to have a close look at our data. It was a really nice feeling to drive the corner which bears my name here in an F1 car – I certainly wouldn't have imagined that at the time that we inaugurated it.”
“It's amazing to see how many spectators came to the Nürburgring today for the practice sessions,” added younger countryman Rosberg, just over a tenth of a second adrift at the close of play. “I love the atmosphere at the German Grand Prix, and in general, I am happy with our work and progress today so far. It seems that the new parts are working quite well in the dry, and I think there is a small step forward. However, on Fridays, you never know exactly where you are and what the other teams are doing.”
Mercedes leapfrogged closest rival Lotus Renault GP into fourth spot in the F1 2011 constructors' standings last time out at Silverstone, and Brawn acknowledges that in order to stay there, more speed still needs to be extracted from the improving MGP W02.
“We've had a solid day to start our German Grand Prix weekend here at the Nürburgring,” the Englishman underlined. “It was a particularly useful day to further evaluate our new exhaust system, following its introduction at Silverstone and the limited dry running that we were able to achieve there. It was a good effort from everyone in the two sessions today, but it would be nice to find a little more lap time before qualifying tomorrow.”
“A productive first day at our home grand prix,” concurred Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug. “Surprisingly, it stayed dry, but the forecast still predicts rain for race day. We worked through our planned programme and evaluated all three different types of Pirelli tyre available to us today.
“Our race simulation at the end of FP2 showed consistent lap times, which were of course still not quick enough compared to the top three teams. Our positions in the rankings today reflect more-or-less our current place in the pecking-order.”