5 April 2012
Brawn: We've missed the mark
Ross Brawn says Mercedes has missed the mark so far during 2012 F1 season
Ross Brawn admits that the Mercedes GP team has 'missed the mark' in the opening two rounds of the F1 season having picked up just a single point so far in 2012.
Despite strong pace in qualifying, the team has failed to impress on race day, with Michael Schumacher's tenth place finish at Sepang being the only time the team has scored to far.
Much of the blame so far has been placed on the tyres, with Schumacher and Nico Rosberg overheating their tyres at Albert Park but then struggling to get heat into their Pirelli tyres in Malaysia.
Heading to China next weekend, Brawn said the team was working to resolve the problems it has faced so far with the car currently only operating at its best in a very small window.
"In both races, our problems have been related to getting the tyres into the correct working window," he said. "However, at each race it was at different ends of the scale: in Melbourne, we overheated the tyres - it was under control on Friday, then we developed the set-up in a direction which did not prove helpful in the warmer conditions. In Malaysia, having done a lot of work in practice to make sure we didn't suffer from the same problem, the cooler conditions on Sunday dropped us out of the window again.
"We have too narrow a window in which we are operating the car - and we have to broaden that, and build more tolerance into how we are using the tyres. When we encounter challenges like this, we look at all areas of the car and we challenge ourselves collectively to find the solutions we need. But our qualifying speed tells us that the fundamentals of performance are there: you can't do the lap times if you don't have enough downforce, horsepower or a good chassis."
Brawn added that Mercedes had been focused on building a car which would be strong in race trim, with the pace seen in qualifying being a consequence of that, denying that the team had worked on making a quick car for qualifying at the expense of race performance.
"Our objective is to build the best car we can for the race - and our qualifying performances are a consequence of that," he said. "Nothing has been consciously done to focus on making the car quick in qualifying, and not so good in the race, because under the current rules - with DRS and the number of pit stops - there are no real rewards for doing so. Using the tyres properly is vital for success, and it depends on a number of factors, including set-up, the downforce the car is generating and the drivers' approach. Within the set-up variations we can choose, we have the opportunity to find the right solution. But it's a learning process, and we missed the mark at the first two races.
"Our analysis since Malaysia has given us an even better understanding, and we have plans and actions in place to improve our tyre management. We clearly have a reasonably quick car - we have shown that in qualifying - and now we have to convert our speed into race performance."
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