There has been internal debate at Mercedes GP as to whether the team should shift focus to the 2011 season, or push on with the development of this year’s iteration of the car, the W01. Nico Rosberg, who has made a better showing with this year’s car than has Michael Schumacher, has thus far been keen to see development continue on the W01. Schumi, who has endured a torrid comeback season thus far, has favored giving up the W01 as a bad job, in order to concentrate on its successor.
It appears that increasingly poor showings at the past two venues have tipped the scales in Schumi’s favor. Team principal Ross Brawn has revealed that the team has only a single upgrade left in the pipeline for 2010, and goin forward the team’s resources will be aimed at the 2011 car.
As Brawn recently told Autosport, “I think there is one more step we want to do before the end of the year to take full advantage of the low exhaust position, that is something we will target for Singapore. That was coming through already but clearly after the break our priority will be the new car.”
The month long summer break commenced after last weekend’s race at the Hungaroring, and will continue until the race at Spa, at the end of August. The break bifurcates the season, and Brawn had earlier on indicated that he would make a decision about the development focus of the team once the year was at midpoint.
Brawn has pioneered this type of planning during the modern era, to great effect at both Ferrari and Honda/Brawn/Mercedes. When he first joined Honda after a year’s sabbatical from Ferrari, he decided immediately that their 2008 car was a total write-off, and devoted the entire 2008 season to the development of what became the 2009 Brawn, a car that was invincible for the first half of last year.
During the second half of the year, however, the Brawns’ rivals caught up with them, and in 2010 the now badged Mercedes units have fallen further behind, finding themselves in competition, not with the leaders of the field, but with the likes of the Renaults and Force Indias. Clearly, Ross Brawn is hoping to conjure up some of his old magic to reverse this trend and return the team to its winning ways.
“We understand what we need to do next year,” Brawn said, “and that is where we are putting our major efforts.”