Nico Rosberg says he gained a very good first impression of the Mercedes W02 on its debut at Valencia this morning, and is confident that the team is set for major progress in 2011.
Although Rosberg had to park the car with a hydraulic issue early on, he said he had learned enough to know that he liked the W02.
"The positive thing was I just felt at home straight away – I felt at one with the car," said Rosberg. "It didn't feel like a different car that I don't know; it feels very nice. That's a very important thing straight away, to feel comfortable.
"Then the initial impression, it's difficult to compare obviously because with the Pirelli tires I just did one test back in November, so it's a different track and difficult [to compare]. But the general impression was very good."
He reckons changes behind the scenes at Mercedes GP have clearly paid off in the new car's design.
"I think it's just a better car in general," said Rosberg. "The company has become much stronger. Ross [Brawn] has re-organized the company, put different people in different positions, he's improved the communication between the car and the engine group, so the whole car is a big step forward for us, and it all starts with the way the company is working.
"There's going to be a lot more to come with the aerodynamics in the next few weeks, and then we'll make quite a lot of progress, like many other teams, too, I guess."
Rosberg is sure his own performances will be much stronger now he has had a full year to settle in at Mercedes as well.
"For sure the past season helped me gain even more confidence and I feel comfortable in the team," he said. "Last year it was a new team – and it's a process to really integrate yourself into the team, and that's been going really well, so I go into this season and really look forward to it because I think I'll be able to perform really well – better than last year. Which, with a decent car, should give us some very strong results."
He also played down suggestions that he might have a tougher time staying ahead of teammate Michael Schumacher if the seven-time champion was back to his best form this year.
"Who's saying that it wasn't the old Michael last year...?" Rosberg said. "Michael is driving a Silver Arrow, and the combination of that and a seven-time World Champion, you always have to reckon with that, even though, yes he had a bit more of a difficult season last year.
"But it's one year further down the road and I go into it expecting that it's going to be tough to beat him again."