Lewis Hamilton might be forgiven for looking anxiously at the performance of his new team for 2013, after Mercedes failed to score any points at all at the end of the 2012 F1 Grand Prix of Japan.
Nico Rosberg was eliminated from the race after being caught up in the first lap mêlée sparked by Fernando Alonso's spin. He ended up being hit from behind by Bruno Senna's Williams, while his team mate Michael Schumacher ran out of laps in his bid to get into the points from his back row starting position, the result of a lacklustre qualifying and a ten-place grid penalty.
Nico Rosberg found himself talking earlier than expected to the assembled ranks of the media, telling them that he had a "good start to the race" but that it had unfortunately "ended fairly quickly today" in a Grand Prix which brought his first retirement in over a year - the last being twenty races ago in the 2011 Italian Grand Prix.
Explaining his incident, the German said, “I began to brake but Senna crashed into me from behind which destroyed my rear tyre and meant I had to retire.
"It's a shame as I felt very comfortable with my car on the installation lap, and I was confident we could score some decent points. I'll now hope for a better weekend in Korea."
Michael Schumacher - who announced his retirement from F1 ahead of this weekend's race - said that he had "mixed feelings" about the day, although 11th place was definitely "better than expected" given his back row starting position.
“In the final laps, I had a nice and interesting battle with Ricciardo, but in the end I couldn't get past him because the Toro Rosso was so quick on the straights,” said the seven-time world champion. “That's why we have to say we couldn't get much more out of it today.”
Failing to score any points is a blow to the team, given that Sauber is now breathing down their necks in the constructors' championship.
Ross Brawn tried to take the positives out of the race, saying: “From where he started today, Michael drove a strong race, and it's a shame that he didn't get some points for his efforts. However, starting 23rd on the grid made that just too much of a challenge, despite a very good strategy and encouraging pace from the car in the lower temperatures.
“The accident that caused Nico's retirement was a great shame as the car was in good shape and we could have scored decent points if he hadn't been taken out," he continued. "There were some encouraging signs in the race and we will have to take heart from that as we continue to work on improving the car.”
Now the team was looking forward to next weekend's race in Korea and the urgently-needed opportunity to get their season back on track with a strong result.
by Cameron Paterson