Despite Lewis Hamilton's public pessimism about his chances of success in 2013, the Mercedes team insists that there is no reason not to aim for race wins.
Much has been made of Hamilton's decision to swap McLaren for the Three Pointed Star next season, particularly as the Brackley-based squad failed to score for five races between Singapore and Brazil, but team principal Ross Brawn is confident that there will be a return to form before the Australian Grand Prix.
Mercedes started the 2012 season by propelling Nico Rosberg to victory in China and both the German and team-mate Michael Schumacher returned to the podium before the campaign reached its halfway mark, but the W03 – and its radical 'double DRS' concept – then fell away from the leading group, recoding a series of mediocre finishes before Schumacher claimed seventh place in his swansong appearance at Interlagos.
Unsurprisingly, Hamilton has defended his decision to leave the successful McLaren operation by acknowledging that he may go winless in 2013, but Brawn has other ideas.
“I think Lewis was just playing things down,” he told Britain's Sun
newspaper, “I'm sure, in his heart, he wants to win and set pole positions, but he understands the journey we must go on.
“We're working very hard to give him and Nico the opportunity to win and take pole positions. That's our ambition and our objective. It's obviously critical we improve from where we are. We're going to try, even if we don't hit all our objectives, [and] I'd like to think we can do a few of those things next year.”
Hamilton ended the 2012 campaign with victory on the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, before being turfed out of the lead in Brazil when well-placed to complete his McLaren career with another win, but has wasted little time in trying to learn the nuances of Mercedes' latest machine.
“Nico and I have flown together to races, so we talk about a lot of things,” the Briton revealed, “I ask him questions about how his car is behaving and he will tell me where the weak points are. At some stage, we will sit down and discuss it further.”
While Hamilton expects his relationship with former karting team-mate Rosberg to be much like that he enjoyed with Jenson Button at McLaren – cordial but not close – Brawn says that team is looking forward to welcoming the 2008 world champion into the fold.
“We're very excited about the prospect of working with Lewis,” he confirmed, “The team are very excited that we're still able to have a driver of that calibre. As we get a stronger car, obviously the drivers will become even more critical for us. It's going to be very interesting for all of us. I'm sure he'll be different to Michael…..”