Exclusive Ross Brawn Q&A: Mercedes want wins this year 03 Feb 2011
It is not easy to gauge what the mood is at Mercedes GP right now. Their opening test day in Valencia this week was marred by reliability issues, and it was difficult to read much into their performance on Wednesday. Team principal Ross Brawn insists that any problems are just minor teething troubles and that everything is under control. And after the three podiums they scored in 2010, Brawn is now targeting victories
Q: Ross, what is your gut feeling about this new car? There seem to have been a few issues in testing so far
Ross Brawn: We had some problems with reliability on test day one and had to sort that out overnight so we were able to look at the performance of the car for the first time yesterday afternoon. Thats when we could really focus on the performance of the car. It is too early to judge and there is nothing wrong with the car. It works well and both drivers are happy with how it feels - now performance is on the agenda.
Q: The talk in the paddock is that you and the other minority shareholders have sold your shares in the team and that Mercedes now own 100 percent
RB: Well, I think that is just speculation and thats not something I am going to comment on.
Q: You must be tired of all the questions about Michael Schumacher. Hand on heart, do you think he still has it in him?
RB: I think he will move forward. Last year we werent happy with the car. We need to have a much stronger car this season. There have been lots of occasions where Michael has been very strong. We need to pull things together - the strength of Michael with a very good car. Then we will be extremely competitive.
Q: His return was certainly a marketing boon, but some might say it is now a burden. Would you agree?
RB: My expectations are that were going to be much more competitive - and Michael will be part of that. He will have a much stronger performance this year. After three years absent from motorsport it takes some time to get into it again. But I am very optimistic of whats going to happen with Michael and whats going to happen with the car.
Q: So he will be driving for the whole season?
RB: Of course he will.
Q: Not so long ago the vice-president of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Norbert Haug said that he was prepared for it to take quite some time for the team to achieve their ambitious aims. Were they words of warning?
RB: Well, motor racing is a very unpredictable business. You never know what kind of a job other people are doing, and never know at what level your competitors are. What is important for us as a team is that we keep moving forward. We keep getting better each year - and by doing so we finally will succeed. Whether it is this year or next year, I dont know. The important thing is we are moving forward. Finishing fourth in the constructors championship in 2010 was not good enough - we have to move forward. Norbert has been around long enough to know that there is no such thing as overnight success. Everything comes from good preparation and comes from the strength of the team. It means having the right people, even having the right ambience in the team and the right work ethic. They are all things that you build. Its not something that you can switch on overnight. Norbert was absolutely right in that we dont know how soon we can achieve our ambitions, but we must move forward each year.
Q: Nico Rosberg did really well in 2010. Even though he had to overcome a worst-case scenario when he was teamed up with Michael - and had expected Jenson Button. His performance cut the Schumacher myth down to size. What do you expect from him this year?
RB: More of the same. He did an excellent job and we need the same kind of work this year. He is very quick, very consistent. He is very fit with with a good attitude and he works very well with the engineers. So all he has to do is to continue. I am sure that if we get him the right car he will be able to win races.
Q: Last season only the teams with two drivers consistently in the points ever led the constructors championship. Rosberg delivered almost double the points that Schumacher did. Is that a situation you are prepared to live with?
RB: I think this season both drivers will deliver points on a satisfying level. Nico did extremely well, he was a fantastic reference for the team and I think Michael will do better now.
Q: 2009 must have been one of the highlight of your career. Then you made a shrewd deal with Mercedes. Do you sometimes regret not stopping in your 2009 heyday?
RB: The truth is that you very quickly put your past successes behind you. If I had assumed that my Ferrari career was the pinnacle of my career I wouldnt have had 2009. If I had assumed that 2009 was the pinnacle, then I will not achieve what I will achieve in the future. You dont look back - you only look forward. I want to be proud of what Ive done and if I do stop then Ill be proud of what Ive done up until that point. There are a few more years yet before then. My ambitions are with the team, with Mercedes, to win races and championships.
Q: How much longer will you be absent from your rose garden and your fishing?
RB: Well, I still manage to do a little bit on the weekends. When I have to balance my motor racing life!
Q: At the moment it is all about dreaming about how the season will unfold. What would be your best-case scenario?
RB: We want to win races this year. That has to be our strongest ambition. Whether we will win enough to fight for the championship, who knows. But that has to be the tangible next step for the team. We dont make promises about what we are going to do, but I clearly want the team to move forward.
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