Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn says his team is making positive progress with its 2011 car, as he declared his confidence the squad would be able to dial out the design weaknesses that have hampered its current campaign.
The British-based team had gone into the season anticipating a full-scale assault on the championship, but its W01 has failed to produce the speed to allow either Nico Rosberg or Michael Schumacher to fight for a victory. However, with the team's efforts now concentrated on next year, Brawn says he has had encouraging signs that the squad has overcome a lot of the shortcomings that came through with this year's design.
"I've said before, cars are born 12 months before they are raced, and when this car [the W01] was born we had our focus on lots of things – survival of the company, we were trying to win the championship and we didn't focus enough on it," said Brawn. "But that is the car we have now.
"However, that is not the balance we will strike for next year. Our new car is well-advanced and I can see lots of areas where we are making progress in. So I think I understand the reasons why we are where we are, and I know the things we have to do to be in a better position for next year. We will see."
Brawn believes, however, that one of the biggest factors in determining performance in 2011 will be how well teams adapt to the new Pirelli tires. The characteristics of the Italian rubber will be especially vital to the Mercedes GP team, because Schumacher has struggled so much with the weak front-end nature of the current Bridgestones.
"We have a pretty powerful tire group and we are working closely with Daimler and Daimler experts in how we can improve that side," continued Brawn. "I think with the Pirelli tires it will be interesting how that suits Michael next year. We are not designing the car around Michael, we are trying to design a good racecar and improve all the things that are weak with this car.
"We are not building in any characteristics, but we may find with the tires that they will influence the characteristics of the car considerably. The power of the front tires, the way the tires behave, the responsiveness of the car – it will be more related to the tires than perhaps the car."
Brawn's optimism that Mercedes GP will be in better shape for 2011 is mirrored by Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug, who thinks that circumstances will favor a step forward in form.
"I am absolutely convinced that with hard work and dedication we will achieve our targets," he said. "We are both working together and that is where we are. We are going to be better next year, that is for sure."