Schumacher at Valencia: Photo: AP/Alberto Saiz
With the British Grand Prix just around the corner, Michael Schumacher and the Mercedes GP Petronas team, will be hoping for much better results than their last two outings which have been disappointing at best.
Schumacher admitted today that the team has to face the fact that they were not competitive at Valencia and will need to solve the mystery of their tire problems which have ruined their qualifying chances.
"We have to face the fact that we were less competitive in Valencia than we had hoped for which makes it difficult to predict how we can perform at the British Grand Prix. Our race pace has been quite promising but our qualifying speed is not yet ideal and we still do not understand the full picture about the tires."
Valencia was a disaster for many drivers, especially given the controversy surrounding Lewis Hamilton's delayed penalty drive-through, which didn't really penalize him. Various drivers were suffered in that race for speed breaches getting to the pits and the Ferrari team has fumed all week following the race for their penalty which cost them prime race positions.
To make up for the mixed start to the season and the difficult races at the last two events, Schumacher admitted that the team had been working like hell. "Everyone at our factories in Brackley and Brixworth who are all working like hell to make up the quite difficult start into the season that we have experienced. We would like to give them and all of our supporters a good performance this coming weekend, even if we seem to struggle a bit at the moment."
Schumacher has weathered a barrage of criticism since his comeback. Despite suggestions he is not up to scratch, as well as rumors circulating about Robert Kubica being seen as a replacement - something denied by Mercedes' Ross Brawn - Schumacher emphatically told reporters at last weekend's race event, he was in it for the long haul. F.1 supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, came out swinging yesterday, leaping to the defense of the sport's most successful driver: http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/02072010/58/ecclestone-defends-excellent-schumacher.html
Schumacher expressed enthusiasm for Silverstone, a track which can claim more of a history with Formula One than just about any other. Ex-F.1 driver, Damon Hill, has worked tirelessly in the last few years to ensure the track met the sport's requirements and the new upgrades appear promising. "I have a lot of different and mostly nice memories of Silverstone", said Schumacher, "and therefore I am obviously very much looking forward to traveling there. We will certainly try to do our best there."
It will be interesting to see how the German does at Silverstone. The British press and public have a bit of a love-hate relationship with him, especially when it comes to how he interacts on track with their heroes Lewis Hamilton, and Jenson Button.
The tires have been identified as a major problem for most of the teams this year, but the front-runners seem to be coping better with the issue than Mercedes. Ross Brawn told reporters recently that they had overheating problems with the new exhaust system in the rear of the car, combined with the tires not working under light fuel loads. The package isn't quite right and qualifying is an area which has really put the team under the blow torch.
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