Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug says that while his company's Formula 1 team has made considerable progress this year, it is still not at the level it needs to be. Haug says Mercedes is lacking around half a second of lap time compared to the F1 front-runners, and must find that performance if it is to return to winning ways.
"The verdict on the first half of our season would be: 'much achieved, much still to do,'" Haug said. "We have been the pacesetters at a number of race weekends and Nico [Rosberg] scored the first win for our new Silver Arrow works team in China, while Michael [Schumacher] set the fastest time in a prestigious qualifying session in Monaco and Nico then finished second in the race. Two races later, in Valencia, Michael also scored a podium finish.
"Our team has scored over one third more points than at the same time last season, in spite of Michael suffering a run of technical retirements. The last two races have shown that we currently lack around half a second a lap to the pacesetters. This is clear to all in the team and we'll be doing our maximum to develop the car further and close the gap."
Schumacher is encouraged by the progress made, although his own points tally is not what he was expecting thanks to a run of mechanical problems early in the campaign.
"If we only look at the points standings, it doesn't seem so good; but if you look a bit deeper, and at certain results, then the overall picture is much better," he said. "We have taken a clear step forward and already achieved a few highlights.
Looking to this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, Rosberg believes the tight configuration of the Hungaroring should suit the W03, but is equally aware that the field is so competitive that nothing can be guaranteed on track.
"The layout should suit our car, but you just can't make predictions this year and you never know how it will work out over the weekend. Tire wear will again be critical for the race so we will work hard to manage that properly."