Brawn: Mercedes making progress with race pace

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Ross Brawn believes that Mercedes has made progress since the last grand prix as the German team looks to improve its race pace.

The team has claimed two pole positions so far this season, but Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have failed to continue this form into the races. Rosberg qualified on pole for the Bahrain Grand Prix, but he struggled home to 9th in the race despite making four stops. However, Brawn hopes that the upgrades which will be brought to next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix may aid the situation.

“We have focused our efforts in two key areas: finalising our upgrade package for Spain and understanding our comparative lack of race pace in Bahrain,” Brawn said in a team statement.

“We have made progress in the latter area and will evaluate some developments over the upcoming race weekends to help improve the situation.

Although Brawn is encouraged by Mercedes’ qualifying form, he acknowledged that there are no points for results on a Saturday.

“We’re not there yet but we are making progress and of course, performing in the race is what really counts.”

The team has certainly made a good start to the season, and Lewis Hamilton has impressed many during his first four races with the German marque. Now Mercedes must build upon this via the upgrades, and consistency will be key if the team is to challenge for either championship this season.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.