Schumacher fast lap was 'a show for Germany' UPDATE
This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation.' Nico Rosberg says Michael Schumacher was still keeping something in reserve when he shot to the top of the times in Jerez testing last Friday.
Mercedes had not looked competitive early in winter testing, leading to fears that it might start the season off the pace.
There were therefore raised eyebrows when Schumacher blasted the team to the top of the leaderboard on Friday with what was then the fastest lap of the week.
The seven-time champion maintained that form with third place next day.
Rosberg said Schumacher's times proved Mercedes was in better shape than the skeptics thought - and that the pace was genuine rather than a low-fuel glory run to get some positive press.
"Yes, we weren’t too fast in Valencia but with Michael’s two days of running in Jerez we are obviously heading in the right direction," Rosberg told the official Formula 1 website.
"Despite what people believe we weren’t running in qualifying spec when he did his times - we still had a buffer."
The German also underlined that Mercedes had a lot more up its sleeve when it introduced its full 2011 upgrade package for Bahrain.
"One thing that should be made very clear is that this car that we’ve been running so far is not our Bahrain car," said Rosberg.
"This car is here to improve reliability and do the maximum mileage possible.
"A big step will be introduced later in the test season."
But he admitted that the reliability problems that had blighted his days in the car had been frustrating.
"My running obviously was not so blessed," Rosberg said.
"I only ran for 45 laps on the last day of the Jerez test because of a precautionary engine change.
"Unfortunately I haven’t been able to do as many laps as I would have liked, but overall I see a development for the better and to get better every single lap counts." ITV-F102/14/11 (GMM) Mark Webber cynically raised his eyebrows after Michael Schumacher set the fastest test time at Jerez last Friday.
It had only been one day after Nico Rosberg sounded pessimistic following his stint in the new Mercedes, triggering a wave of negative reports in Germany.
Australian Webber, who drives for the reigning champion Red Bull team, noted that after Schumacher's chart-topping lap, "he was immediately two seconds off the pace once again".
"It was probably just a little show for Germany," said Webber.
"The super soft tire is much faster but they only last for one lap," he explained.
Schumacher denied that his lap time was a ploy to ease the pressure off Mercedes, amid rumors he might also have pressed the button for his adjustable rear wing at every opportunity.
"I was on a ten-lap run, so I don't know if you can call that very short (on fuel). It is also true that we are not the only team to have tried these tires," said the German.
But McLaren's Jenson Button, who insists his new MP4-26 is "not weak" despite it not yet setting a headline time, said the new Pirelli compounds have made it harder than ever to read into test pace.
It has also been suggested that Nick Heidfeld's quick time at Jerez was to appease worried Renault sponsors in the wake of Robert Kubica's crash, while Rubens Barrichello topped the order just two weeks before Williams floats on the stock market.
"There are big differences between the different tires of tires," Button said.
To Auto Motor und Sport, Bruno Senna explained: "The difference between the hard and the super-soft, I would say is 1.5 to 1.7 seconds."
Finally, Felipe Massa smiled as he said no-one in F1 should be surprised to see Schumacher topping a timesheet.
"Schumi in front? This is not news, he's won more than any of us," he is quoted by Autosprint.