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Brawn: Reliability is our main challenge at the moment 15 Feb 2011

Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedes GP Team Principal. 
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday, 1 February 2011 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Jerez, Spain,  Saturday, 12 February 2011 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02 stops on the circuit.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Jerez, Spain,  Sunday, 13 February 2011 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain,  Thursday, 10 February 2011

Mercedes GP’s hit and miss performance at the recent Jerez test has prompted some to speculate that the team are on the back foot ahead of the 2011 season. But team principal Ross Brawn is confident they have plenty of time to remedy any reliability issues and is optimistic that by the time March’s Bahrain Grand Prix gets underway any teething problems will have been solved.

“Reliability is our main challenge at the moment,” Brawn told Mercedes GP’s official website. “Although we have completed the third highest mileage of any team with our new car (a total of 2310km), our level of reliability is not where it needs to be yet. We have experienced our share of teething problems with the MGP W02 but we have solutions in the pipeline to resolve them.

“The second pre-season test in Jerez was extremely useful. Our priorities at this stage are improving the reliability of the new car, working with the KERS system, and developing our understanding of the Pirelli tyres. We had good reliability for the middle two days which allowed us to accumulate mileage and collect a lot of data to study ahead of the next test in Barcelona this weekend."

Whilst Michael Schumacher ended his two days at Jerez a happy man, setting the fastest time on Friday and the second-best time on Saturday, a much gloomier Nico Rosberg climbed out of the MGP W02’s cockpit on Sunday after a precautionary engine change interrupted his programme. Brawn, however, is relaxed about progress.

“Michael had the better of the reliability in Jerez where he completed 226 laps in total, and this has provided us with a wealth of data to study prior to Barcelona,” explained Brawn. “Nico was slightly unfortunate with the issues that we faced on his running days but still achieved some good work and will have better days to come in Barcelona and Bahrain. Only each team knows the truth about its performance during the pre-season period, and knowing all the facts, I am satisfied with our progress over the first two tests.”

Although determined to keep his cards under the table and wait until Bahrain to see how the car fares, Brawn was keen to remind the team’s fans that Mercedes GP will introduce a comprehensive aero upgrade ahead of the Sakhir race.

“We made a deliberate decision towards the end of last year to have a very ‘plain’ car for the first tests and a significant upgrade for the first race in Bahrain,” Brawn said. “With the Pirelli tyres, and the return of KERS, we wanted to make sure that our new car was ready for the first test and this was certainly the correct decision.

“The final features for the Bahrain upgrade were confirmed recently and we are comfortable with the performance step that these developments will bring. Our current package includes some compromises, and we know that there is more performance to come from the car. Of course, we don’t know where the other teams are, and what they have planned in terms of development. No-one will have the full picture until the racing starts in Bahrain.”

Mercedes GP will be back in action this week as a four-day test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya gets underway from Friday.