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F1 NEWS 

Mercedes rues high tyre degradation after Australian Grand Prix slump

Nico Rosberg races with Fernando Alonso in MelbourneMercedes team boss Ross Brawn blamed tyre degradation for the disappointing end to the squad's Australian Grand Prix weekend.

Both Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg had shown promising pace during the weekend, with the seven-time champion qualifying in fourth and his team-mate in seventh.

The race, however, proved a disappointment for the team, with Schumacher retiring on lap 11 after losing all drive.

Rosberg's pace was not good enough to fight for the top positions and he finished in 12th position after making contact with Sauber's Sergio Perez on the final lap.

Brawn admitted his drivers had struggled with tyre degradation.

"After a very encouraging weekend, today was not a good result for us," said Brawn. "Despite excellent starts, both Michael and Nico had difficulties from the start of the race with their tyres. With the development of the circuit and the track temperatures, we fell out of the working window, and struggled with degradation.

"However, we remain positive as both here and over the winter tests, we have demonstrated that we have a fundamentally quick car and we have a lot to build on. So we need to look at what happened today, unravel the problem and work out where we need to improve."

Schumacher said he could have scored a good result had he not been hit by problems, and the German is still upbeat heading into Malaysia.

"I believe I could have had a good race this afternoon, and I can still take some positives out of the weekend as we have seen our car was confirming our feelings, and is definitely a clear step forward. We can now build on that and start improving further."

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