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New Mercedes hampered by cooling problems
Ross Brawn is not overly concerned about the gap in performance between the new Mercedes and the early pacesetters in pre-season testing.

Despite setting the fastest time on two separate days at recent tests, Brawn has admitted the new W02 is off the pace in its current guise.

"It's a fair statement," he told the Mercedes website. "We are well aware of the pace of our current car, the distance to the current front runners and the reasons for this, which include the compromises brought about by our cooling issues. Our intention was always to launch the car in a fairly basic specification to allow more time to focus on the upgrade package. This inevitably means that we look further off the pace than people might expect. Knowing all of the facts, I am comfortable with our current position and the developments that we have to come."

The team has been forced to cut extra cooling holes in the bodywork at recent tests to stop the car overheating. Brawn said this problem will be resolved with a performance upgrade at the final pre-season test in Barcelona.

"The biggest challenge for us so far has been a cooling problem," he confirmed. "The short-term modifications that we made to the launch-specification car cost a reasonable amount of performance. The solution has been incorporated into the bodywork design for our upgrade package and will recover that performance before the first race."

But he said it was still too early to say whether the car would be challenging for victory at the first race in Australia on March 27.

"It's still too early to say but I am sure everybody will know more after the final Barcelona test. We have a very good base to build on. Our team is progressing very well and the Silver Arrow is coming together. Our target remains to take a step forward compared to last year and to compete with the best."

He added that the cancelation of the Bahrain Grand Prix and later start to the season will have no real effect on the car's competitiveness.

"There is no real impact on our development program as we had no major upgrades planned between Bahrain and Melbourne," Brawn said. "The additional two weeks will of course provide a good opportunity to regroup and allow all of the teams to have more preparation time before we arrive in Melbourne for the first race. The car specification for Melbourne will remain the same as we had planned." ESPN F1

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