While many supporters of Michael Schumacher are taking a wait and see attitude about the final outcome of Schumi’s comeback, on the assumption the current iteration of the Mercedes, orginally designed with Jenson Button in mind, will be evolved more to Schumacher’s liking, Merc team boss Ross Brawn insists that the Merc W02 won’t be a Schumi-car.
“We are not designing the car around Michael,” Brawn recently told Autosport. “We are trying to design a good race car and improve all the things that are weak with this car.”
Nevertheless, Brawn did allude to the fact the Mercedes W01 is suffering from a lack of front end grip, which is causing the car to understeer. As most of Schumacher’s fans know, the German ace prefers a car that oversteers. The width of the front tires was reduced by the FIA for the 2010 season, which has caused many of the cars to be faced with understeer issues. Some designers and engineers have coped with this problem better than others. It seems that Mercedes is one of the teams that wasn’t able to get it right.
But Brawn is hopeful that the team can turn things around next year. He’s already announced that the team will cease making upgrades to the W01 this year, and will begin to focus totally on the W02 for 2011. Next year, Pirelli is taking over form Bridgestone the role of sole tire supplier, and Brawn believes that adapting to the new rubber will be a critical factor in the relative success of all the teams on the grid next year.
Brawn has implied that Merc’s aim will be to build a more or less neutral car next year, with the expectation that the new tires will affect the overall handling characteristics of the W02 to a large degree.
“We are not building in any characteristics,” he said, “but we may find with the tyres that they will influence the characteristics of the car considerably. The power of the front tyres, the way the tyres behave, the responsiveness of the car – it will be more related to the tyres than perhaps the car.”