Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug insists that the team needs to find half a second to match the pace of the F1 front-runners if it wants to win again this season.
The team secured its first win thanks to Nico Rosberg in China earlier this season and has taken a number of podium finishes with both Rosberg and team-mate Michael Schumacher, although it has proven to be unable to match the likes of Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari on a consistent basis.
Speaking ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend in Budapest, Haug insisted that the team still had work to do despite securing its breakthrough victory, with the team needing to find at least half a second to get onto the pace of its rivals.
“The verdict on the first half of our season would be, 'much achieved, much still to do',” he said. “We have been the pace-setters at a number of race weekends and Nico scored the first win for our new Silver Arrow works team in China, while Michael set the fastest time in a prestigious qualifying session in Monaco and Nico then finished second in the race. Two races later, in Valencia, Michael also scored a podium finish. Our team has scored over one third more points than at the same time last season, in spite of Michael suffering a run of technical retirements.
“The last two races have shown that we currently lack around half a second a lap to the pace-setters. This is clear to all in the team and we'll be doing our maximum to develop the car further and close the gap.”
Schumacher meanwhile said he felt the team has made progress during the season so far, even if the progress wasn't necessarily reflected in the results.
“As so often in life, this is, in my opinion, a question of perspective: if we only look at the points standings, it doesn't seem so good; but if you look a bit deeper, and at certain results, then the overall picture is much better. We have taken a clear step forward and already achieved a few highlights.
“I'm looking forward to this weekend's race because I really enjoy the Hungarian Grand Prix. It's a circuit where the drivers are always busy around the lap, it's really demanding and there are barely any opportunities to catch your breath. Let's wait and see what we can achieve here, before the team heads off for a well-earned break.”