After unveiling the MGP W02 this morning, Mercedes allowed both Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher to try out the 2011 challenger on the first day of pre-season testing today in Valencia.
However, hydraulics problems meant that Rosberg stopped out on track after completing just nine laps and Schumacher had to wait for the problem to be resolved before he could do fifteen exploratory laps towards the end of the day.
The seven-time world champion finished the day ninth fastest overall but Rosberg’s lack of running meant that he dropped to the bottom of the leaderboard. Despite this, the German already thinks that the MGP W02 is an improvement on its predecessor.
“The good thing is that I felt completely at home and comfortable in the cockpit straight away this morning,” Rosberg said. “Initial impressions are very difficult to make as we’ve now changed to the Pirelli tyres but the feeling was very good. It just feels like a better car in general and it will be good to have a full day to really make progress tomorrow.”
Schumacher concurred with his team-mate, adding that he is eager for the new season to start. “It has always been and is still very special to go out in a new car for the first time, and I very much enjoyed today even if it was just a few laps that we could do,” he said. “Maybe you could sum it up with: interesting but short! It was mainly about doing a few system checks today and I am looking forward to the laps to come. All in all, I am very happy after today’s launch of our new baby, and I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Ross Brawn explained that first impression of the car were good, but that sorting reliability issues would be a priority for the team. “It felt good to see the MGP W02 finally take to the track after so much hard work from everyone at the factory to prepare the car for this first test,” said the Mercedes technical director. “Michael and Nico felt comfortable and had a good feeling from the car, although we were limited in the mileage that we achieved today.
“We had a hydraulic problem early on which limited Nico’s running but were able to change the system to get Michael out for a few laps at the end. The first tests are about focusing on reliability, which admittedly was not great today, and getting the KERS system functioning well. Performance testing will develop over the next month as we get more running under our belts.”
Rosberg is back in the car tomorrow and Schumacher returns for the final day of the test on Thursday.