Last night Michael Schumacher reported himself satisfied with his one and a half days of running in the Mercedes W02 at Jerez, and especially with the tyre knowledge the team has gained.
The German is confident that the decision to delay the debut of the new W03 until the second test – in effect giving the design team an extra 14 days – will pay dividends. However, he is cautious about the car’s potential, given where the team was last year.
“The main point is the reliability factor,” he said. “If a car has a certain performance, you’re going to dial that our reasonably quickly, unless you have unexpected circumstances, as we occasionally have in the past. We hope not to have this, we hope to learn our lesson, and our programme is done in a way that we believe in it.
“It is an important factor because we worked longer on our car, but as I’ve said before I don’t think we can realistically achieve a championship car immediately from where we started last year, we have to build our way there. I’m confident we can do that in the future, but let’s take it step by step.”
That of course begged the question of whether he will be around to reap the longer term benefits…
Schumacher said that the tyre testing with the old car had been valuable.
“We did lots of mileage, good mileage, not just cruising around. We made some very good work with the new tyres that we have to face for this year. And that was the main focus for us, understanding those tyres, use the old car as much as we know what is different between those cars, last year’s car and this year’s car, and trying to understand and work a programme that we’ve done perfectly well.”
He also implied that the tyre are now more suited to him: “They have changed quite a bit – they are lot more consistent, and a lot more close to let’s say a real F1 tyre, what you would expect, what you’d wish to have. It’s certainly for a race driver much better.”