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W04 not currently a title contender - Brawn

ESPN Staff
February 25, 2013 « Lowe set to join Mercedes after McLaren move | Ross Brawn set for Mercedes exit? »
Ross Brawn says the early signs from the W04 are encouraging but it does not look like a title challenger © Getty Images
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Ross Brawn does not think the new Mercedes W04 is capable of challenging for the championship in its current state of competitiveness, but believes the gains in performance from last year are real.

Mercedes got its pre-season testing off to a shaky start with reliability issues on the first two days at Jerez, but the car has shown signs of promise since. Brawn said the W04 is on target but admitted that, at the moment, he thinks it will still fall short of the best cars on the 2013 grid.

"We had some new car reliability issues, but it doesn't appear to be anything fundamental," he told the official Formula One website. "The car looks a step forward from where we were last year. The car is doing what all our simulations and modelling suggested that it would do.

"It is not so that we think we've got a championship-winning car right now, but the difference we have anticipated or predicted between the 2012 and 2013 car seems to be real, which is always an encouraging sign."

He said the loss of rear brake pressure and subsequent accident during Lewis Hamilton's first day was not ideal, but that the team had moved on.

"Of course the first couple of days were very disappointing. But what was encouraging in that situation was Lewis's attitude and approach. He was very mature and he understands these complex engineering processes. We explained to him what had happened and he understood and dealt with it.

"For sure, it was not what we wanted to happen, but it was a useful experience for the team and Lewis and vice versa. So yes, Jerez was disappointing and you don't want it to happen - not with a new driver in his first run in the new car."

With the major change in engine regulations from V8s to V6 turbos looming in 2014, teams will have to shift focus at some point this year. But Brawn said the team would still do the "maximum" it could with the 2013 car while focusing on its long-term plan for success.

"One thing is clear: we can't approach 2013 saying 'well Lewis is here for the long term; we said that we're doing 2014 properly so we don't need to worry about 2013.' We worry and are putting a lot of effort in 2013 because we want to do the maximum that we can. I think Lewis has recognized that we've got a medium-term plan and he wants to be part of it."