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Brawn: It's close

NEWS STORY
28/02/2010

On the final day of pre-season testing, a day when the top eight drivers were covered by just half-a-second, Mercedes GP boss Ross Brawn admits that the top teams are more evenly matched than expected.

"You saw in the beginning of testing that Ferrari were quite dominant," he told reporters in Barcelona, "but based on this test the teams are all pretty close.

"We're just a little bit off where we want to be," he continued, "but we're close enough to be within reach. We're getting some good mileage done now and this morning you saw us have a go on lower fuel levels. We're not a long way off, we're just a few tenths off where we want to be.

"We have a new package for Bahrain and I hope that makes the difference," he added. "The balance is getting better, there's set-up and obviously efficiency counts. So the upgrade should bring predominantly an efficiency improvement and therefore a performance improvement."

Last season, once the business side of things had been settled, the Brawn was quick right out of the box, dominating the final test and going on to score a historic win in the season opener. Ever the realist, Brawn admits that such a scenario is not likely this time around.

"We are close enough to have a go, but obviously we're not enjoying the same situation as we were last year," he said. "There are probably only two or three times in my career that I started a season with the same performance advantage as I had last year.

"I just think it will be a super hard battle this year," he continued, "bit by bit, whereas last year we had a huge advantage and it was a question of hanging on to it as long as we could."

Asked how his two drivers are measuring up against one another, he admitted: "Until we get Michael and Nico on track at the same time it's impossible to judge between the two of them. They both look very good. You don't want to see either driver trailing behind and judging from the tests on different days they are close. I don't think they know where they are because conditions and tracks make comparisons different but I think both drivers are looking competitive."

Referring to Schumacher, with whom he won titles at both Benetton and Ferrari, the Englishman said: "He has been very intense in terms of his approach. He's pretty close to what I remember. He stopped because he was tired of F1 but that's gone now. He's very passionate about racing again and is working hard with Nico to improve the car. He's got to start getting back into the groove but I don't think Michael will be the issue, we've got to get the car a little bit better."

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