Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn says he has not seen anything to suggest that the squad's 2012 car will not be capable of winning races. The team has looked strong in winter testing, and is determined to fight for victories this year after two seasons of not quite getting on terms with the frontrunners.
Asked if he felt the new W03 had the genes of a winning Formula 1 car, Brawn replied: "I think you always believe that. You want a winning car and I have not seen anything that tells me it shouldn't be.
"Sometimes you have a car and you struggle with it and you see things that you say are not working how we expected and wanted, but certainly there is nothing about this car that says we should not achieve our ambitions - and our ambitions are to do a lot better than we have done for the past two years."
Brawn was unwilling to give a precise suggestion of where he felt Mercedes stood in the pecking order heading to Melbourne next weekend, and argued that teams' developing solutions to the rules that prevent exhaust-blown diffusers made preseason predictions even harder than usual.
"It is difficult to judge because you don't know what fuel other people are running," Brawn said. "When you see a car out there that starts a race stint then you have to assume that it starts on full fuel and the weights are representative and you will see an accurate model of what they are doing. Some of the race runs look good and some don't look so good, and I suspect the cars will change again before we get to Melbourne.
"Some teams have gone for a design that is clearly still blowing the exhaust in the area of the rear tire – that may have an effect when rear tire degradation is critical because it is much more difficult to manage where the exhaust flow goes this year than it was last year. Last year it was quite precise, this year it is more general because you cannot have the exhaust pipes to blow through the diffuser. There will be some interesting twists and turns over the first few races."