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Brawn: Development pace key to Mercedes' 2013 prospects 24 Jan 2013

Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03 crosses the line to win his first Grand Prix.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 15 April 2012 Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Austin, Texas, 15 November 2012 Lewis Hamilton and Ross Brawn, Mercedes Factory, Brackley, UK, January 2013 Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 7 October 2012

Team principal Ross Brawn believes that lessons learned from Mercedes’ disappointing 2012 campaign will pave the way for a stronger 2013, with their focus this year very much on maintaining the in-season pace of development on their new F1 W04 car.

Its predecessor won last April's Chinese Grand Prix in the hands of Nico Rosberg, but the team were unable to maintain that level of competiveness and ultimately dropped to fifth in the constructors' standings. Brawn insists, however, that Mercedes now understand what went wrong.

“I think the thing we failed in last year was the development rate of the car,” he told media at the team’s UK factory in Brackley on Thursday. “If you recall, when we arrived with the car we were looking pretty good, but we had some unfortunate reliability problems and we didn’t consolidate the performance that we had in the early part of the season.

“I think we’ve now understood that we took a wrong turn. We got into some technology with the exhaust system that we didn’t understand well enough and we didn’t have the right tools, the right understanding or the right simulation to really understand what was going on with it.

“We persevered because we knew if we took it off the car we would immediately be back where we started, so it was painful and it came at a time when we were in transition with our aerodynamic group, so we weren’t best placed. Probably if you look back on it we may have been better taking a different approach. I think that’s what we’ve learnt.”

Brawn acknowledged that Lewis Hamilton’s arrival at Mercedes - replacing the retired Michael Schumacher - has also provided a huge boost to the team, as has knowing that much of the organisation’s recent restructuring is now behind them.

“Obviously Lewis joining us was a massive catalyst for us all, a massive incentive for our motivation,” he added, “but I think I am also seeing the maturity of the changes we made 12 months ago. I think a lot of things are behind us now. We did the restructuring, the wind tunnel, and this coming year we are going to gain the benefits of those initiatives and the investments we’ve made.

“I believe we’ve made good progress over the winter, we believe the car is much stronger. The focus is to make sure that we can maintain that development rate, which is always ferocious in Formula One. And so we are structuring the team to make sure that we can maintain that in what is actually going to be a very difficult year with 2014 looming. 2014 is massive changes and we’ve got to be supporting 2014 as well as making sure of 2013.”

Brawn also dismissed media speculation that he could leave the team in the near future, insisting that the arrival of Toto Wolff from Williams this week as Mercedes’ new motorsport chief will complement - rather than clash with - his role as team principal.

“I am in charge of sporting and technical and racing matters,” he reiterated. “Of course, Toto’s coming in and there’s a whole other side of the business which quite frankly I don’t want to get involved in. I don’t want to get involved on a day-to-day basis in the commercial activities, with the support we need to give Daimler, and there are a lot of things which Toto will be doing which are complementary to what I am doing in terms of running the team.

“We have to have one reference. Everybody knows that the only way a racing team will work is to have one reference - and I am that reference.”

Mercedes will launch their 2013 car at Jerez on February 4, the eve of the first pre-season test session at the Spanish circuit.

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