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Mercedes: Tire issues key to 2010 wins
The Mercedes W01 has shown some hint of speed from time-to-time but never when it counts
Mercedes’ drivers believe they can still win races this season if the team manages to resolve the tire problems which are currently compromising the W01's performance over race weekends.

The Brackley-based team looks increasingly likely to surrender the world titles it won last year under the Brawn name at the end of the season having been unable to get amongst the fight at the front with Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari.

Despite introducing a big update for last week’s European Grand Prix – including a blown diffuser and a further improved F-duct system – Mercedes slumped to its worst performance of the season as it missed Q3 altogether and then scored a single point in the race only after other cars ahead received time penalties.

However, the team is confident its car has much more potential than it is currently able to show as its competitiveness is being masked by performance problems with fresh tires on low fuel – issues which have hampered it in qualifying at the past two races in particular.

Both Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher are therefore optimistic that the team will still able to achieve at least one race victory in the final 10 rounds of the season if the tire problems are resolved.

Asked in Valencia if winning was now out of equation for the team in 2010, Rosberg insisted: “I don’t say no yet. Definitely not, because it is still early days.

“[There are] A lot of different races coming, Monza which is also a very different track and places like that, where the occasional chance will [come] at least.

“It is still a possibility, so we are definitely not giving up on that.

“And if we do find a solution for this tire issue that we have been having especially in the last two races – which should be possible to find, there is a lot of clever people in the team. So there are still a lot of possibilities.”

Schumacher, who claimed at least one victory in each of his 15 full Formula 1 seasons in the first part of his career, believes the strong lap times it was able to set in clean air in Canada proved that the competitiveness is there.

“If you look at certain moments in the race in particular in Canada when we had a clear track and clear lap times were able to be done, mainly that happened with Nico, we were the fastest car on the track in those moments,” he explained.

“So that means that the car has the potential to do [competitive lap times] when certain things go together.

“Why we obviously don’t do it in qualifying, that’s a question mark that we have to answer to ourselves, but once we can answer then there is an optimistic and good reason to believe that we can do much better, and even win races this year.”

Team boss Ross Brawn admitted the problems with tires that had affected it during Valencia qualifying had been the same as in Canada, revealing that its performance had been hindered further by overheating issues caused by the new exhaust which forced it to increase the insulation of some aero components.

“We had a similar issue in Montreal in how we use the tires here,” he said.

“When we get to the final stage where we have to find the performance on new tires we struggled.

“Friday on full fuel, Friday on low fuel, we were pretty comfortable and pleased with the performance – definitely on the full fuel it was very consistent.

“We had some issues with the package which meant we lost some of the performance over Friday and Saturday we had some temperature issues with the exhaust and we had to go back on some of the things we did, which has not helped.

“But we seemed to get into the issue with using the tires on one lap again that we have suffered with periodically this year and was our problem in Montreal.

“So we have got this conundrum of trying to use the tires on one lap or short runs which we are not getting the car to work properly with.”

Brawn conceded the team’s tire struggles in Valencia had made it “very difficult” to properly assess how successful its latest upgrade had been – but is confident it is on the right development path and will be able to exploit more of the package’s benefits at Silverstone.

“We are confident this is the way we want to go and we have some further steps which we want to introduce with this concept,” he added.

“So we can only introduce those steps if we persevere and find the solutions we need.

“The data looks okay and nothing’s happened that we didn’t expect, but with the modifications we’ve had to make to be comfortable with everything we have probably lost some performance and that will be fixed for Silverstone because we can do a much better job when we are back at the factory.”

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