Mercedes GP has dismissed any talk that Michael Schumacher's presence at the team increases pressure on it to succeed in 2010.
With huge media and fan interest surrounding the outfit following Schumacher's Formula 1 comeback, it is inevitable that expectations surrounding it are high for this season. But Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug insists that the team is keeping its approach to the new campaign exactly the same as if Schumacher was not there.
"No, I don't think so," he told AUTOSPORT when asked if Schumacher's presence had ramped up pressure on the team to deliver good results. "I think we have all the same targets and we are just trying to build the best possible car, the best possible package, and then we will see where we are.
"Having said that, I think we will be the last ones to underestimate the competition – and we will have strong competition. We will find out what happens. I think it is positive. It is very good for the sport as well and, of course, for us.
"It's a good story because he started his professional racing career with us. But at the end of the day it only counts that we are competitive. So far we are going in a good direction."
Haug has admitted that he experienced some special emotions seeing Schumacher take to the track in a Mercedes-Benz GP car at Valencia earlier this week.
"When I went into the pits [for the first time], I thought that it was 20 years since we were in the same garage, so this is quite something," explained Haug. "We are still young guys, he and I, and motorsport keeps you young, that's for sure. We have been competitors all the way through, but in the same pits actually; I think it was 10 years ago. Now, it feels really normal, good and positive."
Mercedes GP's new W01 had an inconclusive first test at Valencia in Spain this week, with team principal Ross Brawn admitting the car was not quick enough. However, with updated aero parts (including the 2010-spec double diffuser design) set to hit the track soon, plus the outfit getting a better grip on the weight distribution needed for this year's narrower front tires, Brawn reckons there is every chance a step forward in pace will be found before the start of the season.