Mercedes boss Norbert Haug has called for patience for the new teams coming into Formula 1 this year, but he admits they will have to make big steps to put on a decent showing.
Teams like Lotus and Virgin have been over five seconds off the pace in testing, while the Spanish HRT squad has not even turned a wheel yet ahead of this weekend's first race of the season. Haug said the new teams deserve respect for having managed to be in Bahrain, and reckons they should be given time.
"I think first of all we need to pay respect to these teams," Haug told reporters in Bahrain on Thursday. "It just shows it's not easy to come into Formula 1. This is a very competitive environment and I would say that you can have at least seven to eight teams that are very, very competitive this year.
"It's not only four teams. A team like Force India has improved a lot. Toro Rosso is still improving, so I think that is better than ever in Formula 1. The new ones that are coming now need to make big steps, but we should give them some time. I think it is a very good sign that new teams are coming amid difficult circumstances. It's not easy for them to find support and sponsorship money. I'm sure they worked very hard and my view is that I pay them a lot of respect. And, of course, they need to improve."
Seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher agreed with Haug, and he believes new teams are good for the sport.
"I think what Norbert said already is what you have to see. They give the maximum effort to arrive in Formula 1," Schumacher said. "It means a lot of dedication and this is much more important to see that people are interested to come into Formula 1. And you need to give them time. Everybody needed time when they arrived and I think it's great to see so much interest from new teams that they risk such a step."