Mercedes seek to improve Michael Schumacher's reliability issues

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer

Mercedes say the team's "highest priority" is solving the reliability problems that are wrecking Michael Schumacher's season.

The German has retired from five of this year's seven races - four of them through car failures or team errors.

"Zero-defect reliability is our highest priority," Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn said.

"The opportunities available if we can give both drivers a reliable car and a clean weekend are clear."

Although Rosberg finished the race in sixth place, both Mercedes drivers' races were affected by reliability problems and team errors in Canada last weekend.

Rosberg missed the entire final practice session after his car broke down on its first lap.

Schumacher was first left in ninth on the grid after the team failed to get him across the line in time to start a final flying lap in the top-10 qualifying shoot-out, before being forced to retire from the race with a broken DRS overtaking aid.

It was the latest in a catalogue of misfortunes for Schumacher.

The seven-time champion has shown improved form this year after two disappointing seasons following his comeback in 2010.

But he has also retired from the Australian Grand Prix with hydraulics failure while running third, from the Chinese GP when the team did not tighten a wheel nut at his pit stop; from the Spanish GP after crashing into Williams's Bruno Senna and from Monaco with fuel-pressure problems. In contrast, his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg has finished all the races.

Brawn said: "The performance of our car and our tyre management were generally good in Canada. However, our competitiveness was compromised by reliability problems and mistakes.

"This is a disappointment that is deeply felt by everyone in our team, and we have been working hard to ensure we understand the reasons and deal with them."

Mercedes vice-president of motorsport Norbert Haug added: "Our priority for the next race is to achieve the same standard of reliability for Michael's car that we have seen so far this year with Nico's, who has completed all racing laps so far this season.

"Since his win at the Chinese Grand Prix on 15 April, no other driver has scored more points than Nico. The target is to continue that trend."

Rosberg is fifth in the championship, 21 points behind the leader, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton. Schumacher is languishing in 18th place on just two points.