Michael Schumacher embarks on the second year of his Formula 1 comeback with Mercedes GP this season, with the 42-year-old aiming to improve on his 9th place finish in the championship in 2010. With focus turning to the first race in Australia, Schumacher’s mind is set on fighting for podium finishes and race victories.
What's your verdict on the team’s winter testing program?
My feeling is a good one. The team has been working very hard over the winter to shape our car in all of the areas which had been identified by us as needing improvement. The data I have seen over the winter had been quite encouraging, but then we all know that the realities of data and the race track can be quite different.
As a driver, you obviously hope for a good step forward and I think this is what we have achieved. I am confident that we can compete for podium finishes, and I am hopeful we can fight for victories at some of the races. Saying that, we will only see the truth once the season gets underway, so I can hardly wait to go to Melbourne to finally see what the real picture is.
The trend during the winter has been positive from a difficult start to a good upgrade in Barcelona. Can you continue the same way?
Well, I can definitely try and I certainly will. As I said, it is difficult to predict, but I am happy with all the work that we have conducted so far.
This is year two of your comeback: how different does it feel to 12 months ago?
This year feels very different indeed. Last year everything was new again; the testing situation, the car, the team, the structures. It was very exciting but it was still something you had to find your way through. Now, one year later, I know much better which areas to work in.
I am much more familiar with the team and we have a great group of very skilled and dedicated people. I enjoy what I do, I enjoy working with Mercedes, and I have never regretted my decision to return… if that is what you wanted to ask next!
You've completed thousands of kilometers with the new systems like KERS and RFA on the car. What impact will they have on the racing?
From what I have seen so far, these systems can have an impact, but just not to the extent that you push a button and overtake easily. You still have to be in the right position and have to catch the right moment to find an advantage out of the new possibilities. Only during the races will we be able to understand fully if they work to our complete understanding and satisfaction.
How much have you had to change to adapt to the Pirelli tires, and what will be the key to getting the most out of them in race conditions?
The tires are the same for everyone, and I am sure we will all get along with them. Of course, being drivers as sensitive as Formula One drivers are, we feel the differences, but this is what is exciting about the change and we are trained to cope with them. The key in my view is finding the right strategy to make the tires work to their maximum.