Norbert Haug has played down suggestions Michael Schumacher is all set for a repeat of his disappointing 2010 season.
Although it was said the new Mercedes car and Pirelli tyres would see the seven time world champion more competitive in 2011, the 42-year-old German was yet again slightly off the pace of his younger teammate Nico Rosberg in Australia.
But Haug, Mercedes' competition director, insisted: "Nico and Michael were quite close in the testing.
"And Michael was one tenth from being in the top ten in Melbourne," he told the German news agency DPA.
Haug also said it is no surprise to see the highly rated Rosberg again doing well alongside his more famous teammate.
"Nico needs to hide from no driver and in my opinion would be a serious measuring stick for any competitor," he insisted.