Michael Schumacher has backed up the claims of his Mercedes-Benz paymasters by admitting that, while things have not gone to plan so far in 2010, he has no intention of backtracking on his Formula One comeback.
Speaking ahead of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, the fourth race of his return to the top flight, the German acknowledged that he has not achieved the results that many had predicted of his partnership with the Three Pointed Star, but insisted that things were progressing, and would continue to do so.
"Admittedly, the last two races have not been very fortunate for me, but I am very much aware of the reasons for it," Schumacher claimed, "I know how things go in F1 and, if you look into the detail of the two races, I think everything is still going according to plan. You can only improve step-by-step and I am confident that we are achieving this."
The seven-time world champion scored points in his first two races after returning from a three-year 'retirement', but fell foul of a mechanical problem in Malaysia last time out, leaving him only tenth in the standings, on nine points, while team-mate Nico Rosberg finished third at Sepang to take his tally to 35 and a share of fourth overall.
"We looked quite reasonable in Malaysia at the last race and maybe things will play into our hands again in Shanghai," Schumacher reasoned, "I am looking forward to the race and fully enjoying the competition again."
Team principal Ross Brawn is also confident that Schumacher will be able to produce the sort of performance that has been predicted of him, admitting that the team has not yet given him a car worthy of a top three finish.
"Michael had a strong weekend [in Malaysia] and is getting more up to speed with every race although circumstances beyond his control limited his race performance in Melbourne and Sepang," Brawn noted, "We hope to continue these signs of improvement in China, and it would be particularly good for Michael to be able to have a clean race and show the progress that he has made since the start of the season.
"Our car has been reliable, with the exception of the wheel nut problem in Malaysia, and I am very pleased with the performance of our drivers. We've achieved a reasonable set of results which are in line with the car's current pace, but we have to be realistic and acknowledge that we are not quick enough to compete right at the front at the moment."
Schumacher's last appearance in China is one he will remember fondly, having taken victory in the 2006 race one round after announcing his decision to quit at Monza. The German qualified only fifth in Shanghai, but worked his way through the order in mixed conditions to beat polesitter Fernando Alonso and move level with the Spaniard in the championship standings.