Mercedes GP says it knows exactly what it needs to do if it is going to be able to fight for the World Championship this year, following a fairly low-key Bahrain Grand Prix performance.
Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher finished fifth and sixth, unable to match the pace of the quicker Red Bull Racing, Ferrari and McLaren cars ahead of them. Although the big gap to the front of the field suggest Mercedes GP will need to make dramatic improvements if it is to repeat Brawn GP's title success, the team's CEO Nick Fry is confident it can do it.
"I think it is pretty much what we expected," said Fry about the performance of the team in Bahrain. "I think the encouraging thing was that the car was reliable and we've gone away with actually a good points position and are third in the Constructors' Championship, with the second-placed guy only slightly ahead. So I think we are not going away too downhearted.
"The performance of the car clearly does need work, and it is not in any particular area. The engineering debrief that I have listened to is that there are lots of little things that need improvement but they are things we can do. There is not an issue inside the team of, 'What do we do?' We know exactly what we have got to do, and there are plans in place to achieve that."
Fry believes the gap to the front cannot be shrunk quickly, but he thinks over the course of the next few races progress can be made.
"It is 'close-able' over the next few races," he said. "But, obviously, we don't know what they have got up their sleeve. We have a plan that we will be working to. It looks a reasonable performance step but they may have more up their sleeve than we know about. We can only do what we can do. I think we have a fantastic team of engineers. We have great facilities and it seems to be a comprehensive plan, but only time will tell whether it is sufficient. But we feel fairly confident."
Fry also said that Schumacher was far from disheartened after his showing on his F1 return. "Michael seemed in great spirits," he said. "He has obviously enjoyed himself and that is the main thing. He came back because he wanted to, and knew that he enjoyed racing in the past. I think it has confirmed that he will enjoy racing in the future.
"I think for us that is the most encouraging thing. He looked as fresh as a daisy, as he did in the past, which is very encouraging – and as usual he and Ross [Brawn] and the rest of them are sat in a lengthy engineering meeting developing a list of things to do. I think it is a bit like old times."