Michael Schumacher reckons he will know from his first test in the 2011 Mercedes whether the team has done enough to become a front runner next season.
After winning last year's championship in its former Brawn guise, the squad was not quick enough to contend for victories in 2010, and fell back to fourth in the constructors' standings. Schumacher said he had suspected certain problems with the '10 car from his very first laps in it, and was soon proved right.
"What we want to see is we have a feeling with the car, especially with what I know from now," he said of his hopes for the first test next year. "I could jump into the car and get a reasonable feeling, although the rules will change and not be 100 percent precise, but you do get an input.
"At the [first] test this year, even though I had not driven for three years, I got a warning that was later confirmed. I hope we have no warnings, that we have a competitive car, one we can develop, and very importantly it will be what you see toward the end of the tests to the first race [that counts]. That's my main focus, so when I drive it I hope I get a good read of it."
Despite his first season back delivering little in the way of satisfying results until the closing stages, Schumacher said he was content with 2010 overall.
"Looking back at certain events there are reasons to be happy with certain things," he said. "Looking at the development over the year, particularly with what I take out of it, the team, Mercedes, asked me to come back because of who and what I am, and what contribution I can make. From all these factors we are happy to keep on working together, and most importantly I am happy to keep on working together because I have fun."
He denied that his comeback year had been the equivalent to a second rookie season.
"You probably could argue it is, and in another way it is certainly not, but is it really important to compare it to a rookie? I'm not sure," Schumacher said. "We have a very clear view and very clear targets we want to fulfill and achieve, and we feel this year we are behind because we were expecting more things to be achieved. But we understand the reasons for them, and much more importantly it is about what happens from here."