Mercedes can catch Red Bull – Brawn

March 12, 2011 - 0:0

Ross Brawn is confident Mercedes is in a position to catch Red Bull this season and said the most recent upgrade package, which will run in full on Friday, will go some way to closing the gap.

Mercedes introduced a new floor and exhaust system to the car on Wednesday but still has a new front wing and a few other appendages to test in the final two days at Barcelona. Brawn said his team is aiming to match Red Bull's pace and is confident of doing so after the upgrades produced some positive numbers in the team's wind tunnel.
""I think Red Bull has clearly gone into this year in quite a strong position,"" he told reporters in Barcelona. ""That is who I anticipate will be our reference point in the early part of the season, that's who we have to beat to win races. So that's my judgement. But I don't think it is unachievable and things change quite quickly in Formula One.""
Drawing on his years of experience at Ferrari when he was winning back-to-back titles, Brawn said it was normal for the chasing teams to make up ground on the front runners, who are naturally more cautious.
""Having been in the fortunate position of spending some years as a reference point for other teams and other years trying to catch up, when you are the reference point you proceed a little bit cautiously because you don't want to spoil what you have,"" he added.
""When you are not the reference point you work a bit harder and maybe you are bit more adventurous and aggressive in what you do. And that's why it never stays the same all the time. That's why if a team is dominating it doesn't dominate forever because of its natural conservatism. But in trying to catch up you can trip over, that's all part of the fascination of our business.""
Brawn thinks that all the changes to the regulations over the winter will also mix up racing this year and said that ""it may not be the fastest car that is winning early on."" He went on to single out managing the Pirelli tyres' drop off in performance as an area where races could be won and lost.
""I think with these tyres you can't afford to go into the high degradation period because they degrade in a fairly linear way and then they fall off quite a lot towards the end of their life,"" Brawn said. ""So you don't want to be falling into that period, because you could lose quite a lot of time.""
He added: ""I think there is plenty of opportunity to make embarrassing decisions this year. The degradation of the tyres in many ways is going to liven up Formula One. But we need to see what happens once the racing starts, because obviously the guy who stops early is going to have an advantage for a period, but if you keep accumulating those stops then you'll either have to make an extra stop or you're going to end up running out of tyres at the end of the race and become very vulnerable.
""That's going to be a very fine balance to decide upon and I think it's going to take us all a few races to settle down. We have to understand how the tyres are going to work in hot conditions, which we've not had so far, and on a track where there are other races going on over a race weekend. But certainly it's going to be a lot more lively on the pit wall.""
(Source: ESPN)