Ross Brawn has admitted Mercedes are looking for a big improvement from their car in the test in Barcelona this week.
Mercedes are hunting a missing second in performance with a car upgrade ahead of the first race of the season.
The team had a disappointing 2010 after winning both championships in 2009.
But it was also a year of transition, of adjusting to a new management and ownership structure following the takeover by Mercedes – to say nothing of the cut in staff following Honda’s departure from F1.
The latter should bring a significant boost to the team’s car development. The team couldn’t match the progress of the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren last year.
As they struggled to integrate new parts such as the F-duct onto their car, Mercedes found themselves fighting a rearguard action from the likes of Renault.
Matters weren’t helped by the unusual split air intake approach the team took. They have abandoned it this year but two other teams (Force India and Lotus) have taken their lead and are persisting with it.
After a complete change in their driver line-up last year Mercedes are sticking with Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg in 2011.
However with Jock Clear set to leave the team and Andrew Shovlin taking on the role of chief race engineer, the drivers will each have new race engineers.
Mark Slade will engineer Schumacher’s car and Tony Ross, who was Rosberg’s race engineer at Williams, will rejoin the driver from the Malaysian Grand Prix (Clear will remain for Australia).
It’s a lot to ask the team to suddenly step up to the level of the front runners – even before acknowledging the problems they seem to have with this year’s car.
But having been a reasonably secure fourth in last year’s constructors’ championship it’s not difficult to see them coming under more pressure from Renault, Williams and possibly others in 2011.
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