Although test times notoriously reveal little during the pre-season phase, there are some who are willing to draw a few conclusions. Among them, are Mercedes GP honchos Nick Fry and Ross Brawn, who admitted recently that the Merc was perhaps a full second adrift of the pace of the leaders (the leaders being Red Bull and Ferrari, of course). Brawn admitted recently that the W02 was “about a second off where we want to be, which is at the front.”
Fry echoed his colleagues remark, telling Reuters, “Performance, obviously from what we’ve seen on the track, at the moment is not as good as we would like. But I think there are two major reasons for that. One is that the car did have some cooling issues and has been running with a very sub-optimal cooling package and aerodynamic package, and that is [worth] a significant amount of time.
“Secondly, we went in [to testing] with a slightly different strategy of having what we called the basic car to start with and what we think will be a significant upgrade for the first race. So we knew we were going to be not the quickest, let’s put it that way. We are not panicking, we have a plan, we’re sticking to it and I think that we will be in a reasonable shape by the time we get to Australia.”
Of course, this is what most of the teams are saying: “Wait until we get to Australia.” As usual, pre-season testing has given only a glimmer as to how quick everyone will be in race trim. Mercedes, along with other teams, are holding various upgrades in reserve for the first race. This is always the great dilemma of Formula 1: while team set performance targets for upcoming venues, hoping to steal a march on their competitors, the competitors are doing the same thing. In the end, everyone is aiming at moving targets. Will Mercedes be able to close the gap to Red Bull and Ferrari? You know the answer: wait until Australia.