Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug says he is not surprised in the slightest that Lewis Hamilton chose to join his team, despite its recent lack of Formula 1 success.
Although the squad won the 2009 World Championship in its previous Brawn guise, it has only taken one race victory in the subsequent three seasons. Mercedes is currently 125 points behind Hamilton's current team McLaren in the constructors' championship, and unlike that team is not in contention for either title.
But, asked if he was surprised Hamilton chose to walk away from McLaren in favor of Mercedes, Haug replied: "I should not be surprised if a driver joins us."
Haug said Hamilton was familiar enough with Mercedes to look beyond its current form and see its potential.
"Lewis is not a new guy for us. We learned Lewis via our partner McLaren," said Haug. "We financed him 50/50 with McLaren in his junior career. In Formula 3 Lewis won 15 of his 20 races [in the 2005 Euro Series], all with Mercedes engines.
"All his Formula 1 victories were with Mercedes engines. And we have been paying for his retainer with McLaren. That's common knowledge from the past. He's already a member of the Mercedes family. He knows us, he trusts us. We have signed him now and now we need to present ourselves on the racetrack.
"That's what we're not currently doing in a good enough manner. You can trust us that we are working on that very intensively."
Mercedes' 2012 gains look less impressive because more teams are now in contention at the front, reckons Haug.
"Generally we've improved in the last couple of years if you see our average lap time deficit to the winners," he argued. "There are still five or six teams in that region. There were three or four last year. That has changed.
"As a consequence we need to do a further step. We have done 13 races now and I think in four of them we had respectable speed: [the] win in China, pole in Monaco, second in Monaco, in a position to win and have good speed in Montreal and a podium in Valencia. And we have had difficult races as well.
"We need to stabilize that and bring it to a stable level and make the next step. And this is what we're working on with great concentration and passion. I think we can achieve it, but making a big announcement before we have achieved anything is the wrong thing to do."