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Schumi still has it, insists Haug

Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug has sprung to the defence of under-fire seven-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher - insisting the German legend 'is as good as ever' in the wake of the disappointing start to his much-hyped comeback so far
Record-breaking multiple world champion Michael Schumacher is no less of a driver than he was during his extraordinarily successful 'first' career at the highest level, Norbert Haug has insisted – despite the German legend's somewhat underwhelming and low-key start to F1 2010.

Sixth in Bahrain and an off-colour tenth in Australia – on both occasions behind young Mercedes Grand Prix team-mate and compatriot Nico Rosberg – were a far cry from the Schumacher of old, and the manner in which both rookie Lucas Di Grassi and Heikki Kovalainen for unheralded newcomers Virgin and Lotus respectively brazenly re-passed the 91-time grand prix-winner Down Under in Melbourne last weekend would arguably not have happened three or four years ago.

Nor, for that matter, would the old 'Schumi' – a four-time winner around the streets of Albert Park – have tolerated spending 22 laps stuck behind the noticeably slower Scuderia Toro Rosso of Spanish teenager Jaime Alguersuari. The upshot is that whilst Rosberg heads to Malaysia this weekend sitting a solid fifth in the drivers' standings with 20 points to his name, Schumacher by contrast is three places further back on just nine, a gaping 28 markers off early leader Fernando Alonso.

Three years away from the cut-and-thrust of top flight action and his advancing years now at the age of 41 have dulled the Kerpen native's once fearsomely competitive spirit, scintillating raw speed and ruthless determination to win, say the cynics – but Haug is adamant that Mercedes' highly-paid superstar is still very much on the case, arguing that his true performance has thus far been masked by circumstances.

“Michael is as good as ever,” the Stuttgart manufacturer's motorsport vice-president is quoted as having said by British newspaper The Sun. “He has got it still. He could sit on his sofa saying, 'Nobody won more than I did' – but this is his passion.

“He is a more relaxed guy than ever, he has fun [and] he is a very good team member [and] team player. If you look at the times, if you look at qualifying, Michael was handicapped behind Alonso [in Melbourne]. It is fair to say it was a very comparable lap to Nico – who I think is one of the highest-rated guys of the current generation, with four years' experience.

“Michael is missing three of those four years, but he is here to be competitive. We have one of the strongest driver pairings in the field. It is up to us to improve the package further, and it is fair to say we improved it [in Australia] compared to Bahrain.”



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46 errr - Unregistered

April 01, 2010 12:40 PM

He's only raced twice....Give the man a chance. So many people are on his case already, we havn't even seen anything unfold just yet. People can't judge how the season will pan out until we are well into the European stages. With the points system having changed so much nobody, but nobody can say who will and who won't get anyware this season..

BlaBla - Unregistered

April 01, 2010 12:51 PM

@5inco If you don't like a guy that wins champs bouncing other cars, then why you sounded like you have a lot of respect for Senna? Senna is arguably one of the greatest F1 drivers, but people like you seem to have two sets of standards for some reason.



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