MARCH 22, 2002
Mercedes-Benz looking for horses
THE West McLaren Mercedes partnership is one in which the partners try never to criticize one another and accept the blame equally when things go wrong. This is all well and good but the fact remains that since the first appearance of the new car there have been stories circulating that the Mercedes-Benz V10 is not competitive. Mention the subject of horsepower when Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz's motorsport boss is around, and you will get a thorny response. The question which is being asked outside the team is just how many horsepower are missing and how long is it going to take the team to catch up with BMW and Toyota (which is believed to have the second most powerful engine in F1). The problem is not as acute as at Honda where informed sources say that there is 100 horsepower missing, but the Mercedes problem seems to be somewhere between 50 and 75. How and why this has happened is clouded in secrecy but the only way to go forward is to push new ideas and take more risks - which seems to be what is happening.
The season has not got off to a good start for the team with only a handful of points from the first two races and so the pressure is on to sort things out. Finishing third in the Constructors' Championship may not be a disaster, but nor is it the result that the partners want to see.