Nico Rosberg is positive about Mercedes’ improved testing performance.
Speaking to journalists in Barcelona he said “The team has done a lot of progress, it’s been great to see how much progress has come out.
“Of course we’re not there yet, we want to win the world championship and we’re not the fastest car yet. But things are going in the right direction so that’s really nice to see.”
He said the team were now finding the expected performance gains from new parts on the car: “We’re on the up. It’s been a much more difficult winter than we anticipated.
“Although it was always said that we were not going to be quick in the beginning, it was more difficult, and it’s been great to see how the team turned things around and really pushed on the new upgrades and everything.
“They managed to get them on the car and they’re working as expected which is also a big difference to last year, where very often things got on the car and they weren’t working as expected.
“Now, the theory is it’s going to be 0.4 [seconds] quicker, you put it on, and generally there’s very few issues with them and they are 0.4 quicker. So that’s nice to see.”
He added: “I just feel the handling is better, more grip and everything. That’s it, just faster, good handling, better, more fun to drive.”
Rosberg did some running in the dry yesterday in anticipation of the heavy rain which hit the track today:
The forecast was rain today and until now my preparations have been a bit unlucky in testing. Most of the issues we had were on my days.
“I was a bit behind on my preparations so it was important for me to get out again to do some proper, lower-fuel running. Stuff that’s a bit more representative of qualifying, because it wasn’t done very well yet when I was in the car.”
He said the conditions were tricky: “It’s very difficult out there, not a lot of grip. Especially on the rears you’re sliding a lot so it’s not so easy.”
And he said the team have got a good handle on the 2011 tyres: “I think the tyres we understand pretty well now.
“We learned a few things about the wet. Strategy-wise it’s going to be very interesting and probably, thanks to Pirelli, we’re going to have some very exciting races.”
Asked how many pit stops he would need in the first race he joked: “We’re planning six, probably!”
Although he wouldn’t go into details about how competitive he thinks Mercedes will be he hinted that Red Bull have the fastest car: “I think there is one team that’s clearly ahead and it’s not us at the moment. But I may be wrong.”
2011 F1 testing
Image © Mercedes