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Q and A with Norbert Haug

How do you consider the team's performance at the season opener in Melbourne?

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
: We are happy with the performance of Fernando and Lewis. Finishing second and third they scored 14 out of 18 possible points. However, Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen were faster on this occasion and we therefore have to improve further. During the tests from 27th until 29th March we worked on further optimizing our technical package.

Q. How do you judge Fernando's performance in his debut race for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes?

NH: Finishing second in both qualifying and race Fernando achieved the best possible result considering our immediate competitive level on that day. With his faultless performance he proved how he became a double World Champion. He is working professionally and focused and is motivating the entire team.

Lewis also secured a podium finish. Were you surprised?

NH: Lewis started his Grand Prix career in an impressive way. For more than ten years, no Formula 1 rookie ended up on the podium in his first race. For about ten years, Lewis has been supported by McLaren and Mercedes-Benz, and he showed his talent winning the Formula 3 Euro Series on the supporting program to the DTM and subsequently the GP2 title. As a driver, he may not always do everything right this season, but the team will back him all the way.

Q. How do you consider the Mercedes-Benz engine's performance?

After being adjusted to the new rules the engines showed differences concerning peak performance, characteristics, drivability, and torque. Compared to the competition we are well prepared.

Which are the specific challenges of the Sepang circuit for the engine?

NH: At the Sepang Circuit we will experience completely different conditions than in Melbourne. Ambient temperatures of above 30 degrees and a high humidity, the engines will be challenged a lot more than usual. For the technicians, cooling of the engines is crucial. In these difficult conditions, almost 70 percent of a lap will be driven under full throttle, however, we have a good basis.

What are the statistics of the team in the Malaysian Grand Prix?

NH: In 2003, Kimi won here his first Formula One race from seventh on the grid. In addition, we achieved three podium positions and three fastest race laps since the inaugural Malaysian Grand Prix in 1999.
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