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Red Bull design guru Adrian Newey admits to being intrigued by Mercedes delay in unveiling its 2012 contender, fearing the German team may have a trick up its sleeve.
In 2009, as Brawn, the Brackley outfit's controversial diffuser caught rivals on the hop, and by the time the rest of the field had caught on Jenson Button and his team had secured the title.
In recent years, in terms of great innovations, McLaren gave F1 the F-duct, while Red Bull developed the side exhaust system.
As Mercedes prepares to unveil its 2012 car, there are claims that the German team could have run it in Jerez but opted not to, not only to give it more time to develop the car but also to hold off rivals prying eyes for that little bit longer.
"I was told by the German press, whether this is true or not, that the car was ready to run at the last test," Newey told Reuters, "but they chose not to and why would that be?"
"I said I've got no idea," he continued, "but why you might choose to do that would be if you had some feature on your car which you think is a big benefit and which is relatively easily copied. I'm not saying that is the reason, but it's a possible reason."
With just four weeks to the opening session in Melbourne, the design legend admits that it takes around six seeks to evaluate a rival team's idea to the point where one might consider incorporating it on one's own car.
"If you were prepared to simply go out and copy it because you think it's such a blinding idea without actually evaluating it properly then you can cut a bit of time out of that," said Newey. "Last year where we put our exhausts on from the first test and McLaren had managed to copy (us), by their own admission, by the first race. I guess with hindsight we perhaps should have delayed that a bit longer."
While the Mercedes WO3 will be under close scrutiny next week, for the most part times will be ignored, though Newey no doubt remembers the shock debut of the Brawn at the penultimate pre-season test in Barcelona in 2009, the Brackley car dominating proceedings almost from the outset.
Asked if he will be paying particular attention to the Brackley car in Spain, Newey's response was seemingly non-committal. "If it comes out and goes three seconds quicker than anybody else, yes of course," he said. "Other than that, simply because its later doesn't mean to say you are going to suddenly show more attention at that than anybody else's.
"Of course you do look at other people's cars but I generally find that it this time of the year actually the main thing to do is try and understand your own car rather than worry too much about what everybody else is doing."
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