LONDON, April 7, 2012 (AFP / Tim Collings) - Michael Schumacher and his Mercedes partner Nico Rosberg hope their team have found a solution to their tyre-wear problems and can battle for glory in next weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.
Both German drivers have shone in qualifying and looked very fast ahead of the season-opening races in Australia and Malaysia, but failed to turn speed and potential into points.
They were challenging for the front row of the grid at both races, but ended with just one point between them.
But team boss Ross Brawn believes the team could have resolved their problems ahead of the third event of the year in Shanghai - where seven-times champion Schumacher will be aiming for his 69th pole and 92nd career win.
Brawn said: "A lot of hard work and analysis has taken place back at the factory since our return, and I hope to see these efforts pay dividends next Sunday in Shanghai with a performance which reflects the capabilities of the F1 W03.
"We hope that the weekend will prove more successful than the first two races of the season where our race results did not match expectations after a positive start to both weekends."
Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug added: "Michael's second row qualifying positions were less than half a second from pole in Australia and Malaysia.
"But at both events we did not convert our qualifying speed into a consistent race performance on Sunday -- when it counts.
"Since the last race in Malaysia, the team has conducted analysis of our tyre usage during the first two rounds, and how we can improve.
"So, the Chinese Grand Prix will provide an answer on our progress, although weather conditions and circuit characteristics will be different to either Melbourne or Malaysia."
Brawn added: "We have too narrow a window in which we are operating the car - and we have to broaden that, and build more tolerance into how we are using the tyres.
"When we encounter challenges like this, we look at all areas of the car and we challenge ourselves collectively to find the solutions we need.
"But our qualifying speed tells us that the fundamentals of performance are there: you can't do the lap times if you don't have enough down-force, horsepower or a good chassis."
Brawn added that improving car set-up, rather than a wholesale rethink about the design of the W03, is all that is needed for Mercedes to start finally delivering on its promise.
"I think we can go a long way (to solving the problems) with set-up. We had one race which by our own admission we didn't do a good enough job in (in Melbourne).
"And one race which was an unusual set of circumstances - and a couple of things we did to try and respond from Melbourne went the other way for what we faced in the race in Malaysia. So I am still pretty confident.
"We have not had a clean weekend where we can make a judgement, but I have to say that cars have to be able to cope with a wide range of conditions and, if there is something we have to look at -- it is broadening the ideal conditions that the car operates in."