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Brawn defends tyre call

NEWS STORY
23/03/2013

Mat Coch writes:

Mercedes boss Ross Brawn has defended his team's decision not to pit its drivers for a fresh set of intermediate tyres during today's qualifying session in Malaysia.

With the track beginning to dry in the closing moments, but still wet in places, those who pitted for new tyres appeared to have an advantage.

However, neither Lewis Hamilton nor Nico Rosberg swapped tyres and instead circulated on worn intermediate rubber.

"It's was a close call," Brawn admitted. "Of course if you do (put fresh tyres on) you've made that decision; if it doesn't work you can't reverse out of it.

"We of course considered it before the session started but we'd seen some indications that the intermediate both held on and maybe improved as it wore down," he added. "I don't think that seemed to be the case."

Hamilton took the decision in his stride. "We made a choice where we stuck with it," he said after the session. "Nico was quickest in the dry and until then I was quickest in the wet so I don't think we need to be experimenting with anything."

With Hamilton fourth and Rosberg sixth on the grid by last year's standards the team should be pleased, however this time around Brawn and his team are hoping for more.

"We've worked very hard this weekend to get the long run pace set up nicely and so far we've done pretty good long runs. So, if it's dry tomorrow I think we're in a good position to fight with the guys in front," Hamilton enthused. "If it's wet then the car's pretty good in the wet as well."

"For sure our car is better this year so it makes a lot of things easier," Rosberg added. "Raikkonen won from seventh in Melbourne so everything is still possible in terms of grid position."

Ever the devil's advocate, Brawn was more cautious in his appraisal of the team's chances. "I don't think we've seen the full potential of every car and every driver," he warned. "I think we're certainly top six in terms of our cars.

It's a measure of where we are right now that we're disappointed with fourth and sixth," he added. "Fourth and sixth would have been very welcome in the second half of last year.

"I don't think we're the fastest team but we've made some encouraging progress and we've got to keep pushing hard to keep progressing because the pace, the progress at the front is ferocious. If you don't keep working hard, keep bringing new improvements to the car then we'll slip back.

"What will really count is where everyone is tomorrow, how they're using the tyres, how to get the most from a good strategy and so on and so forth. The next measure will be tomorrow."

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