Silverstone: Mercedes and Michael Schumacher looked forward to the second half of the Formula One season on Saturday after British Grand Prix qualifying showed a marked improvement in performance.
Although the seven times world champion qualified only 10th, after making a mistake, that was still five places higher up the grid than he had been at the European Grand Prix in Valencia (round nine of 19) two weeks ago.
Team mate and fellow-German Nico Rosberg took the fifth slot, compared to 12th at the last race.
Team boss Ross Brawn explained that the problems in Valencia had been largely due to the troublesome introduction of a ‘blown diffuser’ -- which directs the searingly hot exhaust gases through the rear of the car to create more aerodynamic downforce.
Championship leaders McLaren have suffered similar problems at Silverstone, forcing them to ditch temporarily the technology pioneered by rivals Red Bull and revert to their old setup for Sunday’s race.
“We had a number of problems which were very distracting over the weekend and we didn’t do the fundamentals,” Brawn told reporters in the Mercedes motorhome when discussing the Valencia tribulations.
“When you don’t do the fundamentals, you slip behind a few tenths and that’s it.
“You saw with McLaren yesterday, it’s not an easy technology to get on top of. And I think this weekend we have learned a lot more about it and we’ll take another careful step with it in Hockenheim (the German Grand Prix in two weeks’ time).
“This weekend we did a sensible job with the bits we have whereas in Valencia we lost control of the situation, I lost control of the situation in terms of getting the best out of what we had,” added the burly Briton.
Rosberg had a brake problem in the Valencia race that Brawn said could have been avoided had they done some running on full fuel tanks in Friday practice rather than focusing on temperatures around the car’s exhaust.
“We could have ditched the system on Friday and gone back to something we knew, but we persevered and that probably cost us some performance in the race,” he said.
“We have now got everything working properly so we are not wrapping wishbones in insulation and the sort of stuff we were having to do in Valencia.
“We have got those problems solved, touch wood, and are able to focus on getting the performance out of the car that’s there,” he added.
“It’s not the fastest car on the circuit but it’s a pretty reasonable car and in Valencia we just didn’t get that performance out of it. Here we’ve made a better job.”
Mercedes -- whose predecessors Brawn GP won both titles last year -- are fourth in the championship, 139 points behind McLaren.
Schumacher, who returned to Formula One this season at the age of 41 and after three years out, has already said he is focusing on 2011.