Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn says Formula 1 teams may need to rethink the way they launch their new cars next year, after those that gambled on late-updates to their 2011 challengers struggled in early races.
Brawn believes that his team may well have been better off spending more time getting to understand how to get the most out of a car, rather than leaving it to the last minute for aerodynamic updates. Mercedes GP faced a difficult early spell in testing, as it focused on reliability on a basic car package, before introducing its definite update package for the final preseason test in Barcelona. However, it took until last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix for it to understand how to extract the most speed from that updated package.
"If you look at it last year, in the last five races we changed nothing with our car but we went faster," explained Brawn. "So there is a lot of time in cars in just understanding what they respond to, and how you set them up.
"Perhaps we will reflect back on our approach over the winter of turning up quite late with what was a definitive car, because perhaps we just did not understand, with so little time, the best ways of getting it to work. Now we are seeing the best ways of getting it to work. Nothing dramatic has changed, we just have thought about the setup and thought about the things we should prioritize. And that is what we did in China."
Mercedes GP was not the only one who delayed running its definitive 2011-package until Barcelona, with Ferrari also waiting until then. Before that, McLaren skipped the first test this year with its new car to give itself more development time.