Michael Schumacher has admitted that his first season back in F1 after three years in retirement was not only a personal disappointment, but also a tough one for the Mercedes team.
While the results clearly show that the Three-Pointed Star was no match for the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari
and even former partner McLaren
at the front of the field, Schumacher's comments confirm the struggle that Ross Brawn's squad endured just a year on from claiming a double title success with Jenson Button
and Rubens Barrichello
That campaign was both the cause and effect of circumstances, with Honda's withdrawal giving Brawn GP
longer than usual to design and refine the BGP001 that carried Button to six wins in seven races and, ultimately, the championship, but the sustained competition with Red Bull
that took the title fight to the penultimate round - and the constructors' battle to the finale in Abu Dhabi - had a knock-on effect on 2010, with development of what became the W01 having to compete with the prolonged revision of its predecessor.
The result was a relatively conservative 2010 car, which denied the returning Schumacher and, perhaps to a larger extent, the ambitious Nico Rosberg
a chance to repeat the frontrunning form of 2009. Although the younger German took a handful of podium finishes with the Petronas-backed machine, Schumacher peaked in fourth place - in Spain, Turkey and Korea - and admits that the team was hurting at its inability to run at the front.
"There is really only one goal, and that's winning," the 41-year old seven-time world champion admitted to Swiss publication Blick
, "The team won the world championship last year, so it's pretty hard for everyone to have a season like we had.
"Of course, from my side, it's important to identify the weaknesses, but I didn't have to put my finger into the wound to wake people up -- that is done automatically with the results."
Despite rumour and speculation throughout the season, Schumacher appears likely to return in 2011 - he has two years remaining on his current contract - and says that nothing short of reaching the top step of the podium will do.
"We are extremely motivated to come into a position to be able to win - that is the basic requirement [for next season]," he confirmed, "I said already at the start [of 2010] that I don't want to drive around in the midfield."
Having outscored his veteran team-mate by 142 points to 72 this season, Rosberg echoed Schumacher's sentiments in a separate interview with Germany's Auto Bild
"Sooner or later [winning] will happen, but we can't forget that the gap we have to the front is quite big," he noted.