Mercedes' Chinese Grand Prix chances depend on tyre 'sweet spot' says Ross Brawn
|By Jonathan Noble||Sunday, April 15th 2012, 05:33 GMT|
Ross Brawn says Mercedes' hopes of capitalising on its qualifying form in the Chinese Grand Prix will depend on it getting its tyres into the right operating window.
The team has locked out the front row of the grid at Shanghai with Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, but its tyre struggles in Australia and Malaysia have led to questions about its chances over a full race distance.
Brawn admits that the tyre situation is not ideal for his team - but knows exactly what will be needed for the grand prix.
"I think one of the things that was interesting in qualifying was the narrow window that these tyres have, in terms of temperature and optimum working range," he explained.
"If we can hit that sweet spot then we should have a good race, but as you saw with Sebastian [Vettel], if you don't quite get it right it makes it difficult.
"So we have made a fair commitment this weekend to get it in the best shape we can for the race - and then qualifying, as with all teams, becomes a second consideration.
"So if we can carry over what we saw with high fuel running then we are confident we can have a better race. I am not so confident that we can enjoy the advantage we had in qualifying, particularly with Nico, but I am optimistic that we can have a decent race."
With tyre temperatures appearing so critical to performance, Brawn did concede that there was very little teams could do to improve matters between qualifying and the race.
However, race day at Shanghai is much warmer than it was in Q3 - when a number of drivers struggled to get their cars into the right operating window with the tyres.
"It is tricky and you almost have to follow it and track it," he said. "And there is very little you can change, even before or during the race. The tyre pressures are free and the front wing settings you are allowed to change, but there is nothing else you can change on the car.
"So with the small adjustments you can make, you have to try and get the tyres to work properly - and there is no feedback loop. You have nothing that is telling you you are in the right range, and one of the things we have to achieve going forward is a broader sweet spot for the car.
"Here we managed to get the car right in those conditions, with the tyres and low fuel, and we have to find ways to translate that into the race. I don't know if we will hit that correct period, but I think we have a better chance as the conditions should be more consistent than we have had the last couple of races.
"We had a couple of days of being able to set the car up. Melbourne was a much hotter race day and Malaysia was a much colder race day, which presented some challenges and we were not on top of the job in those races. They were changing conditions, and we just took a little while to get the best from these tyres."