Mercedes unsure about their position in the pecking order after Friday running in Spain

W04 still suffering sharp drop-off in race simulations

By Pete Gill.   Last Updated: 11/05/13 2:39pm

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Opinion is divided within the Mercedes camp as to where the team stand in the pecking order after Friday Practice for the Spanish GP.

While an optimistic Nico Rosberg described Mercedes as being "there or thereabouts", team boss Toto Wolff conceded the day had been "difficult" and a subdued Lewis Hamilton admitted he was unsure if the W04 has been improved by the new upgrades brought to Barcelona by the Brackley outfit.

Although the Mercedes' single-lap pace continues to look impressive, the evidence of the closing stages of Practice Two, when the teams ran their race simulation runs, suggests that, once again, the W04 is suffering far sharper tyre degradation than its competitors.

"The car seemed quick over a single lap but what matters for Sunday is how we perform on our long runs. They looked more difficult for both drivers today and we have plenty of work to do overnight to improve our pace for the weekend," Wolff acknowledged.

In contrast, Rosberg, who was seventh fastest in Practice Two just behind Hamilton, was noticeably more upbeat.

"The car is decent," the German told Sky Sports News. "It was a good day. We are there or thereabouts. For qualifying, I'm not worried, and for the race it's difficult to be sure where we are.

"Tyre-wise, it's a big mission, because there was a lot of graining again and that makes it difficult."

Hamilton finished only three-tenths shy of Sebastian Vettel's table-topping pace but also expressed his concerns about the Mercedes' ability to sustain its pace on long runs.

"I don't know if we've made an improvement," the former title winner admitted. "We don't have the same pace - or so it looks - as the Red Bull and Lotuses, but we'll go back to the drawing board and fix the set-up to make sure tomorrow is better."

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