Mercedes to ramp up work on finding tyre wear breakthrough at Spanish GP
Improving tyre wear along with wider Barcelona upgrades on agenda
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 03/05/13 3:19pm
The Brackley-based team laid claim to having the fastest car over a single lap with back-to-back pole positions in China and Bahrain but respective polesitters Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg couldn't challenge for victory over the more gruelling Sunday distance.
Rosberg's slide to ninth in Bahrain was particularly alarming, the German forced to make four pitstops en-route to ninth, and Mercedes have used the break ahead of the European season to accelerate some improvements with tyre management for Barcelona, in addition to their planned wider car upgrades.
"In the two weeks since we returned from Bahrain, there has been a lot of hard work taking place in Brackley and Brixworth to prepare for the start of the European season in Barcelona next weekend," explained team boss Ross Brawn.
"We have focused our efforts in two key areas; finalising our upgrade package for Spain and understanding our comparative lack of race pace in Bahrain. We have made progress in the latter area and will evaluate some developments over the upcoming race weekends to help improve the situation. We're not there yet but we are making progress and of course, performing in the race is what really counts."
On F1's last visit to the Circuit de Catalunya for the third and final winter test Mercedes set the overall pace on the final two days, although temperatures next weekend are likely to be significantly warmer than was the case back in early March.
Nonetheless Nico Rosberg is eyeing a similar level of competitiveness on the aerodynamically-demanding layout.
"We know that the car went very well at the Circuit de Catalunya in pre-season testing so I am hopeful that we can have a strong weekend," the German driver said.
"We will have to wait and see how our pace compares however. I've been in the factory for a couple of days this week, on the simulator and meeting with the team, and everyone has been working hard to make progress on our race day performance."
Lewis Hamilton returns to Europe in a strong third place in the Drivers' Championship after securing top-five finishes in each of his first four races for Mercedes and the Briton, in addition to now feeling fully settled in his new team's car, is eager to see how their Spanish GP pace matches up to their Barcelona testing form.
"We've been boosted by the results that we've had at the start of the season and to come away from the first four races with two third and two fifth places feels like a real achievement," Hamilton said.
"I'm feeling very comfortable in the car now and we know the areas that we need to improve so a lot of effort is being put in to close that gap to the front-runners.
"Barcelona should be a good test as we know the circuit so well having completed most of the pre-season test programme there. The weekend should be a good benchmark of the progress we have made since then."