Norbert Haug has played down suggestions Michael Schumacher is all set for a repeat of his disappointing 2010 season.
Although it was said the new Mercedes car and Pirelli tyres would see the seven-time world champion more competitive in 2011, the 42-year-old German was yet again slightly off the pace of his younger teammate Nico Rosberg in Australia.
But Haug, Mercedes' competition director, insisted: "Nico and Michael were quite close in the testing.
"And Michael was one tenth from being in the top ten in Melbourne," he told the German news agency DPA.
Haug also said it is no surprise to see the highly rated Rosberg again doing well alongside his more famous teammate.
"Nico needs to hide from no driver and in my opinion would be a serious measuring stick for any competitor," he insisted.
Ecclestone, Teams Paid More: Report
F1's financial loss widened in 2010 but Bernie Ecclestone took a pay-rise, documents filed in London's Companies House reveal.
The Bloomberg business news agency said the loss incurred by F1 owner CVC grew to $660 million, while the teams' income rose 21 percent.
The teams' prize money pool in 2010 was $658 million, an average of almost $55 million per team, but with champions Red Bull receiving the most.
The prize money has increased for three years running, due to the negotiation of much better financial terms when the latest Concorde Agreement was drawn.
Teams now receive 164 per cent more income than was the case in 2007, before the new Concorde Agreement took effect.
The documents revealed that F1's total sales in 2010 was $1.08 billion, up 2 per cent due to new races including Korea joining the calendar.
The sport's net income was $296 million, with chief executive Ecclestone paid $7.9 million -- a 21 per cent increase.
Engineer Admits Red Bull Flex Wing Mystery
Engineers still do not know how to emulate Red Bull's flexible front wing, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
After Melbourne, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton warned that the FIA should either move to ban the RB7's legally-bending wing extremities, or Red Bull's rivals will have to "copy" it.
But the German report quotes an unnamed engineer as admitting: "We know what Red Bull are doing, but we do not know how."
Auto Motor und Sport said the innovation is worth about "half a second" per lap.
- Interested in buying ? Visit our showroom for more information.