Michael Schumacher is adamant he’s still got every chance of winning an eighth Formula 1 World Championship this season despite taking his time to get back up to speed.
The 41 year old began the season with a sixth place finish in Bahrain, but struggled to tenth place in Australia, a week later, and retired after just nine laps in Malaysia with a wheel nut problem.
However, the Mercedes GP driver said today in Shanghai that he was pleased with his start to the season and expects to be challenging for the title.
“Indeed yes I do [think I’m still in with a chance of the title] because if you take the points system and you see that like Fernando, he had a retirement in Malaysia [and] for whatever reason it can happen to all of us.
“I had mine in Malaysia and at one point of the season it will hit the guys fighting for the championship. So if we have a quick enough development speed, there is no reason why we cannot fight for championship,” said Schumacher.
“There is such a long season ahead and development is so important. We all know how quickly the rate of development is. I’m pretty sure we have potential to develop this car. It’s far from thinking this season is over for Nico [Rosberg] and even for myself.”
“I’ve been around long enough to know about what I call the wave of emotion,” he continued. “In winter everyone was very emotional and supportive, that was the wave, and then there is a natural falling off.”
Schumacher sits tenth in the championship standings, 30 points behind championship leader Felipe Massa and hasn’t yet got onto the level of his team-mate Nico Rosberg.
However, this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix provides happy memories for the German as he scored his most recent Formula 1 victory at the circuit and the 91st of his career in 2006 before he retired from the sport.
In classic Schumacher style, he prefers to focus on the challenge ahead rather than dwell on the disappointment of the last three races.
“Whether you’re the reason for it or whether it’s just a natural happening, is not important. The results have not been as great as some people have expected, even myself, but the competition is high. So it is natural I don’t have the same positive feeling from the media.
“I know exactly what I’ve been doing, I know what’s going on and I have no reason to be disappointed. I still feel very happy, whether people like it or not.”
I spoke to Ross Brawn after Melbourne about Schumacher’s “rehabilitation” to the sharp edge of F1 competition and he seemed to think that it was on target, in terms of the pace and consistency he had been able to show when things were going normally. He seemed to be pretty proud that Schumacher’s performances so far vindicate his decision last summer to hire Rosberg – perhaps Schumacher’s performances say more about Rosberg than they do about the Great Man.