After an underwhelming first season as a works outfit in 55 years, Mercedes GP starts the 2011 season with everything to prove – starting off with netting that first win.
The entire combination of Mercedes engines, Ross Brawn’s leadership and technical nous, as well as a dependable and experienced driver line-up are all great ingredients for a spectacular result – yet the cake flopped somewhat in 2010…
But the team is going about it with the right approach as it heads into 2011, with the tightly-packaged W02 proving impressive in pre-season testing…
Mercedes GP’s 2010 track record
It seemed that few in Mercedes’ Stuttgart headquarters would have been thrilled with the fourth place the team managed in the Constructors’ Championship in 2010 after they took over the reigning Brawn GP team to return as a fully-fledged factory team for the first time in 55 years.
But comfortably between third-placed Ferrari and fifth-placed Renault was a clear representation of where the team stood overall. The W01 car – despite its tendency for understeer – was fundamentally a decent car, although Michael Schumacher was rarely able to get the best from it in comparison to Nico Rosberg.
More of an evolution of its predecessor – the championship-winning Brawn BGP001 – the car looked great and suffered few mechanical vices, aside from its tendency to shed rear wheel nuts during races. But the team’s attempts (under the Brawn name) to win the 2009 title on a shoestring really cost it in designing and developing the W01, and the team quickly realised the game was up and started working on 2011.
They attempted to remain competitive with work on a blown diffuser and an ‘F-duct’, but it was never properly integrated in comparison with others teams.
While much of the media hype was understandably focused on Schumacher, Rosberg got about with doing the job and netted all of the team’s podium finishes, along with becoming the first of Schumacher’s team-mates to consistently out-score and out-qualify the seven-time champion in a full season.
Schumacher was decidedly rusty at times and there were instances of very red-misted racecraft when he didn’t have the car underneath him. But it was a solid, albeit unspectacular return, and he’ll need to step up to the plate and seriously deliver in 2011.
Watch the Richard’s F1 pre-season vodcast as Richard and Jen look at Mercedes GP’s prospects for the 2011 season:
CLICK HERE to return to our 2011 Team & Driver Profiles.
[Images via AUTOSPORT]
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