Michael Schumacher has played down talk that he will get an instant idea of how well he will get on with next year's Pirelli tires during the post-season Abu Dhabi test.
The German is likely to get his first experience of Pirelli's new rubber during the two-day tire test that has been penciled in for the week after the season finale. Having struggled so much with the nature of this year's Bridgestones, how well Schumacher gets on with the new tires figures to play a key role in how well he could perform in 2011. But Schumacher reckons it will take more than just the first test to say for sure how much the new tires suit him, because it is unclear how much the rubber will change from the Abu Dhabi test until the start of the season.
"There is a question of what I will experience at the first test, and the other thing is how much it will develop from there to the beginning of the season and through the season," said Schumacher when asked how much he could learn from the first test. "There is a question mark about if the tires we have in Abu Dhabi are the tires that we will start the season with, and we will continue the season with.
"Depending on what is the situation there [in Abu Dhabi], you will get a quick read because you know how the car was with the Bridgestone tires and then you understand quickly what it is with Pirelli tires."
As well as the hope that Schumacher will be better suited to the Pirelli tires, Mercedes GP is keeping its fingers crossed that its decision to switch its focus onto its 2011 car will help it make a good step forward for next year. Although a similar tactic in 2008 played a key part in helping Brawn GP win the championship the following year, Schumacher says other factors, such as team budget, may make a repeat title charge more difficult to accomplish.
"We know that we have nothing to win this year, whereas the other three teams are fighting for the championship," he said about his main title rivals. "We have, at this moment, a little bit of a time advantage.
"At the same time, don't forget that we have slightly smaller resources, so we hope that this can compensate, and we can do a very good job. Focusing on next year's car is vital in our position, in order to be competitive and to have similar playing fields from then on."