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Brawn: Mercedes to sacrifice qualifying pace for race benefits

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Brawn: Mercedes to sacrifice qualifying pace for race benefits
Apr 5, 2012, 2:47 PM

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn says that the team has understood why its qualifying and race performances have been so imbalanced this season a...

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn says that the team has understood why its qualifying and race performances have been so imbalanced this season and that he is willing to give up some qualifying pace to have stronger races.

Mercedes has scored just one point so far this season from a potential maximum of 86, and trails McLaren by 54 points already. This is despite qualifying one car in the top two rows of the grid at both races.

Mercedes issued a pre-race bulletin today with some findings from the first races, which showed that they were caught out by not getting the tyres into the operating temperature range for the race, despite hitting the sweet spot in qualifying both times.

In Australia the tyres got too hot in the race, in Malaysia the opposite. Speaking this afternoon in a followup conversation, Brawn said, "We have a situation where we have ultimate performance but it's 'peaky'. Perhaps we should move towards a broader base. We would not make compromises to work just for qualifying.

"In both races, our problems have been related to getting the tyres into the correct working window.

"However, at each race it was at different ends of the scale: in Melbourne, we overheated the tyres - it was under control on Friday, then we developed the set-up in a direction which did not prove helpful in the warmer conditions. In Malaysia, having done a lot of work in practice to make sure we didn't suffer from the same problem, the cooler conditions on Sunday dropped us out of the window again."

Brawn revealed that the tyres on the Mercedes have been running between 15 and 20 degrees outside the optimum temperature range and this is enough to knock them off the optimum performance. It seems that the new generation Pirelli tyres are quite 'peaky' themselves and getting them to work is proving tricky for other top teams too.

Interestingly this is an area where teams like Sauber and Williams appear to have done a good job so far this season, hence their strong showings.

Brawn reiterated that research has shown that the Mercedes DRS booster system- which shed drag from the front wing when the driver opens the DRS wing - is not the only differentiator between qualifying and race pace, although it is a contributor.

He also stated that he has confidence that the FIA will continue to withstand the lobbying from rival teams calling for the system to be banned and said that it was a low-cost item to copy, although a tough one to optimise if the chassis wasn't desgned around it. "It's just a couple of carbon pipes running down the car,"he revealed, "They cost thousands, not millions. But the opposition is so fierce because it's difficult to do it if the car wasn't designed that way from the beginning."

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