There was a time during his earlier career in the top flight when Michael Schumacher's team-mates argued they were not being provided with exactly the same equipment as the record-breaking multiple F1 World Champion - but now it appears the Schu might be on the other foot, if you'll pardon the pun.

Schumacher has been denigrated on a number of occasions this season for his alarming lack of consistency from one race to the next, and prior to Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix - ironically, one of his best performances of a generally underwhelming comeback to-date - the Mercedes Grand Prix star had lamented that the F-duct on his MGP W01 was not working the way that it should. After finishing a strong sixth at Suzuka, the German legend hinted that such issues are not an irregularity in his side of the pit garage.

"The car worked great this time," 'Schumi' told German broadcaster RTL post-race in Japan. "Unfortunately, I cannot say it has been that way at all the races. There have often been problems - especially on my car, in terms of the consistency - that were not always noticed from the outside. You only saw that I was slower, [but] both cars have not always been the same."

Amidst recent rumours that his seat could be in danger in 2011 as the pressure mounts on employer Mercedes to achieve solid on-track results, the 41-year-old went on to rubbish notions that the Brackley-based outfit's team principal - and his long-time ally - Ross Brawn has been openly critical of him of late.

"He didn't really criticise me," Schumacher told Sky. "He pointed out that compared to Nico [Rosberg - team-mate] I am a little bit behind, and he is probably right. I have also criticised myself. I am still developing, even at 41!"

"I cannot disagree with Michael," concurred Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug, speaking to German newspaper Bild. "As far as the car is concerned, he is right."