Record-breaking multiple F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher has pinned his struggles on his disappointing comeback to active competition with Mercedes Grand Prix this season on his car, describing it as 'a remnant' of 2009 that requires the drivers to constantly 'compromise' – and vowing to come out all-guns blazing in 2011.
With F1 2010 on its mid-season break, a brief look at Schumacher's situation does not make for particularly encouraging reading, as the man who is by some margin the most successful driver in the sport's long history sits a distant ninth in the title standings with just 38 points to his name, 56 fewer than team-mate Nico Rosberg and with a best finish thus far of only fourth place.
Whilst many have opined that the 91-time grand prix-winner was ill-advised in attempting to return to the fray three seasons on from his last start at the highest level and at 41 years of age now – and that his consequent race-rustiness and lack of sharpness inside the cockpit is costing him dear – Schumacher himself is adamant that it is the car that is to blame, and insists he will prove as much next year.
“Looking at the points table then of course we cannot be satisfied,” the German legend conceded in an interview with his sponsor DVAG
, rubbishing suggestions that his excuses are merely a smokescreen to hide his inability to rekindle the brilliance of his earlier career, “but there are reasons why the deficit is so great. This is the car that was put into our hands. It is a remnant of what was created last year, which had already been shaped, moulded and developed for us.
“As a result, there are many compromises that the driver accordingly has to deal with. The fact is that the car is not functioning in harmony, neither with the tyres nor with the drivers, and obviously we must invest all the time we have in ensuring this is not the case next year. We have to ensure that the [new] car blends correctly with the drivers, and we are on the right track to be competitive in 2011. We are working harder than ever so that we can go for the titles.”
Schumacher claims that the MGP W01 has suffered from two key faults, one being that Mercedes' predecessor Brawn GP's successful push for world championship glory in 2009 meant it was able to focus less attention than its rivals on its 2010 machine, and the other the fact that it was essentially designed around Jenson Button prior to the defending F1 World Champion's switch to McLaren-Mercedes.
Whilst the British star tends to prefer a car that understeers, 'Schumi' has always favoured a 'pointy' and more responsive front end, and it is this mis-marriage that the Kerpen native argues has been at fault for his difficulty in getting his tyres to work to their optimum potential in 2010, causing him to be routinely outperformed by young compatriot Rosberg in both qualifying and race situations.
With all hopes of battling for glory this season having evaporated, efforts have now been moved onto making sure that the MGP W01's successor is a far more competitive proposition, and Schumacher has confirmed that development is well-advanced – as he and Mercedes bid to turn the tables and answer their critics in style by fighting it out for the laurels.
“The teamwork, with the engineers and with Nico, is going very well,” he underlined. “The fact is that I feel comfortable in the situation and I believe we are moving in the right direction to ensure that next year we will be real contenders.”