Nico Rosberg says his belief that Mercedes can not only improve but also crucially challenge for race wins was a key factor in his decision to stay with the team.
Rosberg took three podiums in his first year with Mercedes in 2010, but this season counted fifth place as his best finish as the outfit struggled to cope with the pace and development of Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari. The 26-year-old German admitted he had expected more from the team, having joined following its triumphs under the Brawn team name in 2009, but said he remained confident in the team's ability to produce a race-winning car.
"I decided to stay because I'm sure the situation will change," Rosberg told Gazzetta dello Sport. "Mercedes is doing everything to create a winning structure. Ross Brawn has told me Aldo Costa is great and the other new technicians are very good, too.
"Almost all my friends are Italian, support Ferrari and ask me when I will drive a red car. But I'm not falling for it, because I'm German and to carry on driving for Mercedes is the greatest thing. I just lack a winning car, but I'm sure I'll have it in 2012. I can't wait."
Asked whether bad luck had prevented him from finishing higher in 2011 – like when he was taken out in a first-corner crash at Monza, a race in which teammate Michael Schumacher was very strong – Rosberg said it was more a case of Mercedes being off the pace.
"Bad luck? It's a word I don't like," he said. "At Monza I could have done a great race, I'm sure. The strategy was right, but instead I was out on the first lap already, because they crashed into me. In the end, we are not competitive enough.
"I've had to race on the defense from the start of the season, because we've never been able to trouble the top three teams. When I arrived in the team, ex-Brawn, it was the World Champion team. I told myself: I'll score a few victories and podiums. It didn't happen."
As well as backing Mercedes to improve, Rosberg also downplayed talk of a rift between himself and Schumacher, saying the seven-time champion provided an ideal benchmark. Asked if he was surprised to be beating his teammate, Rosberg said: "Very much so, even though I had expected I would do well. I knew it would be very tough to beat him, that's why I'm happy with what I've done both last year and this year.
"He's not what you would call a bastard. When I ask him a question, he never lies to me. You can work with him. That was a nice surprise, after having heard so many rumors.
"On the track, I always have the same opportunities he has. I'm lucky to be in such a situation, because in this case, too, I had expected worse, considering that Brawn and Michael have been working together for a lifetime. Instead Ross is equidistant. He's a phenomenal reference point for me, too."