Mercedes head to the Chinese Grand Prix with just two points to their name, awarded to Michael Schumacher for his ninth place in Malaysia.
The team were optimistic of consistently challenging for podiums and possibly race victories after Schumacher set the fastest lap time in the final pre-season test, but were unlucky in Australia and significantly off the pace of the top teams last weekend at the Sepang circuit.
However, both drivers head to Shanghai for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix in a good mood, and optimistic of improving fortunes.
For Schumacher, China is the scene of his last race victory, and the seven-time world champion is keen to return, despite having a difficult race in Shanghai last year.
“I am, of course, looking forward to racing in Shanghai as challenges fire me up as much as everybody else in our team,” said the German. “We know that we have little time to build after the race in Malaysia but we are learning with every lap that we race, so we are heading there with an open mind and full of ambition to do better than in the opening races. We know that our fans in China are very enthusiastic and really get behind us, so we will definitely try to put on a good show for them.”
In contrast to his team-mate Nico Rosberg had a particular successful Chinese Grand Prix last season, and shares Schumacher’s optimism. “The Shanghai International Circuit is an enjoyable challenge and I have good memories from the race last year when I finished on the podium in third place,” he said. “Our start to the season this year has been tougher but I’m looking forward to turning the wheel in a more positive direction this weekend.
“I like driving this track and have been pretty quick here in the past. We could have qualified higher in Malaysia so we know that more performance is there, when every system is operating correctly on the car. Hopefully we can improve further and make that happen in China. We are working on it very hard.”
Team principal Ross Brawn is not expecting huge technical improvements over the course of this week, but says that the team can make some helpful changes to the cars before the race on Sunday. “With the back-to-back races taking place in Malaysia and China on consecutive weekends, there is little time to make significant changes to the car ahead of our visit to Shanghai,” he said. “However, we are using the few days available to undertake a thorough review of our first two race weekends and identify those areas where we can make improvements for the Chinese Grand Prix. The hard work will continue at the factory while we are in Shanghai to ensure that we are in a stronger position for the start of the European season.
“Looking ahead to this weekend, the Shanghai circuit is an extremely impressive facility and one of those tracks which produces exciting races year after year. China is a very important market for both Formula One and Mercedes-Benz, and we are very much looking forward to our visit.”