Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug believes Mercedes GP can target a repeat of its strong Shanghai performance in next week's Turkish Grand Prix, providing the team can once again make the most of the speed that it believes is locked away inside its W02 car.
Haug thinks that what the team delivered in China, where Nico Rosberg led the race for many laps and fought for a podium finish, is achievable on a regular basis now. However, with the team having endured mixed fortunes in the first two races of the year, Haug believes that delivering such form consistently will be down to whether the Chinese GP performance is proof the squad now understands how to get the best out of its car.
"I honestly cannot promise you that we will do the same thing in Turkey – but the most important thing is to find the key to unlock the speed," said Haug. "The speed is there. The performance in China was genuine."
Mercedes GP has openly admitted that part of the gains it made in Shanghai was as the result of a major get-together that team principal Ross Brawn and senior engineers had before the weekend to analyze how the season was going. That meeting resulted in the team adopting a different approach to its race weekend program, and working out how to capitalize best on tire strategy.
Speaking about the feelings on his team's start to the 2011 campaign, Haug said: "I would have been happier if China would have been the first race, obviously. Saying that, the China track is not a night and day difference from Malaysia. There are a lot of similarities – and straightline performance accounts for a similar amount at both tracks.
"We now have a better understanding of the car. Ross sat together with the guys and the engineers, and we changed the approach to the weekend. For example, you can destroy your tires easily on a Friday when you are on a heavy fuel load, but if you have a good balanced car then you can afford to have a heavy fuel. It has given us some confidence."
Haug is also optimistic that the team is close to overcoming the rear wing problems that hurt its performance in the opening races of the campaign, with further tweaks due to its car for the Istanbul event.
"We had problems with the rear wing flap, but mainly we have sorted them out," he said. "We have a different system, but it is a clever system if it works – and we made it work in China. Compliments to the guys. I would rather have a fifth place with the speed for second or third, than a third place – although I would take it anyway – that you inherit."