Nico Rosberg said this afternoon that he expects his team mate Michael Schumacher to come back strongly in this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, after a disappointing start to the season, now he is armed with the updated Mercedes car.
“He was very fast in Malaysia and China was a complete anomaly, so we need to be very careful,” said Rosberg. “I’m in the mindset that Michael will be strong here and that it’s going to be a battle for the rest of the season. I’m convinced that I can be on his level, or near it anyways.”
Rosberg confirmed that he will also run the longer wheelbase car, aimed at correcting weight distribution problems and that the two cars will be the same. Another key new part on the car is a revised air intake, quite different from anything we’ve seen on an F1 car for a while. *
“All of the changes will make our car faster. We have some inherent characteristics especially with the new front tyre, in some places we struggle with too much understeer. I struggle as much as Michael with that, it’s not my way of driving. So for both of us if we can improve that characteristic it will benefit both of us just as much.”
Schumacher spoke to us shortly afterwards and gave an honest assessment of his problems so far and spoke of his optimism for the new package,
“In China my performance was not good,” he said. “I was angry with myself. It sticks out there whereas other races were on the right track. I’m optimistic that things will go in the right direction. I didn’t expect to come here and blast everyone away, it’s a process and the process is going good (sic). It’s like the stock markets; they have a trend upwards and they have resets and China was my reset. ”
Although he said that the car hadn’t suited his style of driving Schumacher refused to accept that the car was responsible for his problems. I asked him if he saw this coming when he signed up in December, not having time to consider the impact of the narrow front tyres,
“The cars are what they are and you have to find a way to drive around it,” he said. “That’s how it was in the past and how it is today.”
Schumacher also added an interesting point in response to Jackie Stewart’s comment recently that the current field of F1 drivers is as good as at any time.
“I don’t think it’s higher, ” said Schumacher, picking out Mika Hakkinen and Fernando Alonso as two drivers he competed against who were on the highest level. “What you do have though is more cars on a more even playing field and the good drivers are in those cars so you have a higher level of competition.”
Schumacher is aware that some people will paint this as a make or break weekend for him, with the updated car, but he’s not looking at it that way. And neither is Rosberg who publicly at least, is saying that he’s not going to have it all his own way for much longer.
* Don’t miss the LG Technical Report tomorrow here on the JA on F1 site in which we will look in detail at the updates on the cars in Barcelona and analyse what effect they are having.