After a season of results below expectations and an average start to pre-season testing for 2011, the Mercedes F1 team have finally shown some promise after Michael Schumacher topped the timing sheets on day 4 of the final tests in Barcelona. Schumacher set a best time of 1m21.249, beating the next best pace setter, Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari by 0.365s. The third fastest time of the day was set by Nico Rosberg with 1m21.788s as the Mercedes drivers shared testing duty during the day.
The Mercedes team has been assuring the media that the initial test package was only a basic package and that upgrade packages were coming for the later tests with further upgrades coming for the races This allows a more thorough development of the parts in the factory while the basic mechanical structure of the car has the bugs ironed out of it on the track during testing. It appears that Ross Brawn and the team have validated by this approach.
It is wise to not get too carried away by performances in testing, where there is scope to bend the rules in order to look more impressive, particularly for catching the attention of potential sponsors. However, Mercedes is a well funded team with reputable manufacturer backing and a professional, no nonsense team lead by Ross Brawn, and Norbert Haug none of whom would be expected to be interested in playing games just in order to top the timing charts.