Ifs and buts may have no real place in the F1 business, but Nico Rosberg must have ended up privately wondering if he could have lucked a win for Mercedes in Sunday’s Korean GP had it not been for the unfortunate collision when he was caught by Mark Webber’s spinning Red Bull and turfed into the wall.

Moments earlier, Nico had decisively outbraked Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren – which finished a close second to Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari – and given the fact that Michael Schumacher ended the day by bringing the surviving Mercedes home fourth, it’s probably reasonable to say that Nico could have ended up with second place on the podium.

“We had a near perfect weekend with the car that we have until the collision,” said a philosophical Rosberg. “Qualifying in fifth place was great and the car has felt good all weekend. The team has done a great job here and the straightline speed that we had enabled me to overtake Hamilton early in the race. So it’s a big  shame that my race was ended early. It was really difficult to judge which way Mark’s car would go and I took the decision to go left but he spun more and more that way and I just couldn’t avoid him. It’s a real shame as we could have had a great result today.”

The other significant hint delivered about the Mercedes team’s future was the possibility that Ross Brawn will eventually step back from  the pit wall and take up more of a factory-based administrative role.  This is a question of securing the management succession in the event, as Ross remarked, “You never know when that bus will come round the corner.”

It may have been a difficult and bruising season so far for Mercedes, but there is clearly now light at the end of the tunnel, much of which is down to Brawn’s sheer racing savvy and experience.  If he does step back from the limelight it will be intriguing to see who moves up to fill the gap.