Mercedes GP still needs more pace to compete at the front

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Spain, Circuit de Catalunyaes

Formula One's European season got underway today as the first two practice sessions for the Spanish Grand Prix took place at the Circuit de Catalunya just outside of Barcelona. The focus for today's running for the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS team was to evaluate the changes and upgrades made to the MGP W01 cars for this weekend.

In addition to checking the aero balance and weight distribution with the new developments, the team worked through a number of set-up changes and tyre evaluations.

Michael and Nico completed 40 laps and 46 laps respectively over the course of the day with Michael finishing in third position in both sessions and Nico finishing in sixth place this morning and seventh position this afternoon.

Michael Schumacher: "Today I felt much more comfortable in the car and feel that it is behaving more consistently. In my view, our upgrade is a step forward but we have to wait and see how big the step is as the other teams have obviously improved as well. Now we have to deeply analyse the data to get a better overview on the actual situation and as usual after the Friday practice sessions, it is difficult to estimate where you actually are in comparison to our competitors. We will only have the real picture after qualifying tomorrow."

Nico Rosberg: "It was a challenging day for me today and not where I usually end up after the Friday practice sessions. There are no obvious issues on the aero package but we went wrong on the set-up whilst trying something new. I am confident that we will make progress overnight and tomorrow we will be able to extract the full potential from the car."

Ross Brawn: "We had a reasonable day and covered a great deal of work to gather all of the set-up information that we needed with our upgrade package. Michael and Nico followed different programmes and therefore this evening we need to bring all of the data together and decide how we run the cars tomorrow. The new developments performed pretty much as we expected however all of the teams have moved forward here and the target is constantly moving. It looks like we have kept up but we still have to find more pace to compete right at the front."

Norbert Haug: "Our upgrade package for the start of the European season seems to work as anticipated and it was visible on track and on the timing sheets that Michael was quicker and felt more comfortable today than at the last race in China three weeks ago. Nico was less happy with his car today but the data after the session shows where we went in the wrong direction with the set-up so Nico should be back tomorrow to the strength that he showed in the previous four races. Our pace during the race simulations didn't look too bad but there is definitely still quite a gap to the quickest cars. We will work hard to make another step tomorrow. Today it is not possible to judge whether the competitive order has changed compared to the last races but everybody will find out tomorrow."