It’s back to work this weekend for Mercedes in Malaysia after a mixed bag overall in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Nico Rosberg had a splendid drive in Melbourne to capture the checkered flag but the Silver Arrows did not completely escape new-car reliability issues as former World Champion and pole sitter Lewis Hamilton bowed out due to an engine problem in the opening laps.
The W05 appears to be the car to beat so far in this new era of Formula One, but as shown by Hamilton’s disaster, it’s not a bulletproof piece. It will be interesting to see if the car’s reliability can catch up to its already stout pace.
Throw in the fact that Merc is heading to the home country of title sponsor Petronas, and it’s most certainly a very important weekend for the early front-runners.
“As one of our home races, we are extremely motivated to get a good result here,” Toto Wolff said in a team release. “The first race in Australia left us with mixed emotions. Neither of our drivers put a foot wrong all weekend but unfortunately, only one came away with the result he deserved.
“We know that reliability will be crucial to this long season and we have been working hard to improve the situation for the race in Malaysia. We made a solid start to the year in Melbourne, but we are very aware that not one percent of effort can be dropped if we are to remain competitive.”
Rosberg himself echoed Wolff’s comments, saying that while Melbourne made for a “perfect start” to his campaign, it also highlighted the need for reliability with these new V-6 powered machines.
“We’ve had two weeks before this race to identify all the things that we can do better, so hopefully we can bring both cars home for a good result this weekend and continue our strong start to the year,” the German said.
Meanwhile, Hamilton is looking to bounce back at Sepang International Circuit, where he’s hit the podium in the last two seasons but has yet to win at.
“Although [Australia] was not the result we were hoping for, every setback is a chance to learn more about this new car, which is important as they’re incredibly complex machines,” the Brit said. “I know the team at Brackley and Brixworth is pushing harder than ever and I’ll be doing the same.”