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Tyres still causing headaches at Mercedes

ESPN Staff
September 3, 2012 « More head protection likely for 2014 | Disappointed Williams confident of return to points at Monza »
Ross Brawn: "We've struggled a little bit to follow the needs of these tyres" © Sutton Images
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Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn says understanding the tyres has been Mercedes' main weakness this year but is hoping for improvements over the next few races.

Mercedes won its first race since 1955 earlier this year, but the car's performance has been inconsistent and at the last three races the team has picked up just 14 points. Brawn said the team had put a lot of effort into understanding the tyres, but that consistent performance is still proving elusive.

"I'm not aware of any significant deficiencies of the car," he said. "This year's car was a good step forward in many areas and we were able to demonstrate that at the beginning of the year. I think we've struggled a little bit to follow the needs of these tyres and some of the changes we have had to make to improve the durability in races has not necessarily helped our qualifying performance.

"Earlier in the year we had strong qualifying performances and in some of the races we struggled, perhaps in the second half of the year we've done the opposite and we've moved a little bit too much in one direction. But I think there are a lot of non-linear effects with these tyres and if you get a little bit more downforce you actually gain more than you would expect because you actually put the tyres into the right working range and region."

Brawn said Mercedes has a Monza-specific package for the Italian Grand Prix and after that would up the rate of development on the car.

"Monza will be low-downforce of course so there's a low-drag package for Monza that we will be racing. We have got a pretty strong push over the next few races. I don't want to go into detail but I think you will see some changes in the car over the next few races.

Mercedes has struggled in long corners at the last two races in Hungary and Belgium and Brawn said some of the updates would be aimed at addressing that.

"We suffer from mid-corner understeer and we can't dial out that understeer because we then have [corner] entrance and exit issues. But it's almost a classic racing car problem because when you reach the limit of the car it behaves in a certain way. The range of balance in the car is probably too great at the moment and that could be improved by the aerodynamic or mechanical side and we are working on both aspects to improve the car."