Mercedes has no plans to turn its back on Formula One and remains fully committed to the sport despite a disappointing first year back as a works team, company boss Dieter Zetsche has said.
Zetsche told news agency DPA that the team's distant fourth-placed finish in this year's championship was in line with expectations.
"On the one hand, we can't have expected more as a newly formed team," he said. "We would not have complained if we had won the championship, of course, but it wasn't a realistic expectation. We have been in F1 for some time and we're staying there for the longer term.
"We don't want to be deciding each year whether we are in or out. And we didn't sign a one-year contract with Michael Schumacher, we signed for three years."
Seven-time world champion Schumacher failed to reach the heights he had set himself earlier in his career in his comeback year, but he did put in some strong performances towards the end of the season. Zetsche defended the German's performances.
"It is very difficult to put in an impressive performance with a less competitive car," he said. "First we have to give him the car to show us his capabilities. It is clear that the public, and also ourselves, expect us to be looking better than this year. One must, however, accept that in F1 - and in sport more generally - success is not reliably predictable. Otherwise, it would be dead boring.
Zetsche also conceded that the team would come under more scrutiny if it failed to deliver again in 2011.
"Absolutely," he said. "And that is the essence of our brand - we want to demonstrate our leadership in this industry to be the best. It's not arrogance, it is what is expected of us and what we are measured against. Of course this means that if we don't meet this standard, we are criticised. We have to bear that. But this is also evidence that we are trusted to deliver."