It takes a big man in the F1 business to confess that they haven’t done the best job possible, but that’s precisely the sort of brutally candid self-assessment that I would expect from Ross Brawn, the Mercedes team principal.
After Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher trailed home a disappointing fifth and sixth in the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Ross frankly acknowledged that the cars were not really competitive and that it would take some time before they were ready to challenge consistently for race wins.
But, he added firmly, the programmes necessary to put them into that competitive position had been implemented. In other words, it is a case of “bear with us, because we know what we are doing.”
To doubt that is the case is to misunderstand the dynamics of the relationship between Ross and Michael Schumacher.
Briefly diverting to an historic perspective, I suspect only the Colin Chapman/Jimmy Clark and Ken Tyrrell/Jackie Stewart alliances were built on the same rock solid foundations as the relationship between Ross and Michael. They also have the massive data bank of their work together at Ferrari to fall back on, both in terms of accumulated knowledge and the methodology they deploy to relate to each other.
Ferrari may have posted a one-two in that opening race of the year, but Lewis Hamilton commented last week that he reckoned Red Bull were about half a second a lap ahead of the Italian cars, while he judged that McLaren and Mercedes were wheel-to-wheel heading the pursuit.
But that was only the opening salvo of a 19-shot battle. Expect Michael to drive the Silver Arrows forward relentlessly in Melbourne and Malaysia. Because he certainly won’t be satisfied with where he is at the moment.