Mercedes' Nico Rosberg says the W05 must be '100% bulletproof' for Melbourne
Mercedes aim to press home advantage during final winter test
By Phillip Porter. Last Updated: 26/02/14 3:34pm
Rosberg at the wheel of the W05
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg says the W05 must be '100% bulletproof' by the time the team reach Melbourne for the opening race of the 2014 F1 season.
The Silver Arrows have been the pace setters in pre-season testing so far, Rosberg himself topped the timesheets during the Test One in Bahrain last week. The team moved well clear in terms of mileage on their rivals as their new runner even went as far as undertaking qualifying and race simulations. This progress led rival Red Bull team boss Christian Horner to declare they were the new favourites for 2014.
What's more impressive is that the W05's reliability seems to be unsurpassed, with only Ferrari's F14 T and Williams' FW36 to also demonstrate similar, smooth running traits. However, Mercedes have completed more laps than any other team this winter, with a combined total of 624 for Lewis Hamilton and Rosberg over the eight days, which paves the way for an early assault on the rest of the field when the curtain opens on the new season next month.
And while Mercedes' current show of strength has reverberated around the paddock, we can expect plenty more running from the team as the second Bahrain test gets underway this week. However, with another four days of testing to go, Rosberg himself was the first to sound a note of caution saying reliability is still a concern and plenty of work still needs to be done, having stopped twice during on the final day of the first Bahrain test last week.
"There have been important discoveries and now we have a couple of days to sort them out and hopefully reduce the number of issues we are getting," Rosberg told Sky Sports F1.
"There are problems arising here and there, which is normal, but I think in comparison to other teams we are in a good position with reliability but we need to be 100% bulletproof by the time we reach Melbourne, which is a massive challenge.
"Every lap is important, every lap we learn something. We have discovered many reliability issues which you only discover if you do many laps and push the car to the limit."
Rosberg waits in the paddock
Rosberg's cautious optimism resonates throughout the Mercedes garage. Following the first test in Bahrain, Technical boss Paddy Lowe only went as far as saying that the team are "in contention to do very well in Melbourne" when asked about the Australian Grand Prix.
After Rosberg completed a full 57-lap Bahrain GP race distance during the afternoon on Day Four, Mercedes will be keen to press ahead still further this week, with a keen eye on the progress of Ferrari who, whilst not giving too much away, stepped up their winter testing with an extensive 286 laps themselves at the first test in Bahrain.
"It is positive at the moment. I completed a race-distance today but nevertheless the car did break afterwards so there is still some way to go," Rosberg said.
"I felt comfortable in the car so I was able to push and had a good balance. Its early days for us to say where we are because the other guys haven't taken out as much fuel as we did.
"For sure, we are looking good for pace, but I don't want to say more than that because we just don't know [the pecking order] at the moment."
The third and final pre-season test starts on Thursday morning in Bahrain. The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary from dawn until dusk on all four days, with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News.