Mercedes in Good Position in 2011 - Schumacher

Mercedes Grand Prix didn't enjoy the perfect start of the off-season preparation this winter, but the Brackley based team recovered well enough during the latest group test in Barcelona. Michael Schumacher put his improved W02 on top of the timing reports at Circuit de Catalunya this past weekend, and confirmed that he has high expectations for the season to come.

Even though he is still avoiding to make any winning predictions for the 2011 campaign, his tone when talking to the reporters of the SID news agency was clearly more optimistic than a while back, hinting that only the first few races of the season will show the W02's true worth.

We should be in a good position this year. But as to whether we already have a winning car – for this assessment I would like to first wait a few races,” said the 42-year old German, according to the aforementioned source. “Anyway, with the car we will be able to fight for the top places, and that is good news. The team did a great job.”

Mercedes focused on reliability during the first 3 tests of the winter, after which they debuted a brand new aerodynamic package for last week's group running in Barcelona. The team debuted new wings, exhaust systems, revised sidepods and other aero tweaks that made the car a front-runner throughout the 4 days of testing.

In addition to the car's good pace in long-run testing, Schumacher also surprised the audience with his quick lap in qualifying trim, leading many pundits to believe that Mercedes can provide the extra factor in the championship battle this season (despite the fact that they were a full second behind their rivals a couple of weeks back).

As for the favorites for the new campaign, Schu believes Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel will continue to be the benchmark for the F1 field.

Red Bull looks very strong, and therefore, Sebastian is a favorite going into the season,” he added.
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