Michael Schumacher has admitted that he is not getting much enjoyment out of F1 after a tough start to his second season out of retirement continued with a scoreless finish in the Turkish Grand Prix.
The German, who was comprehensively beaten by Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in 2010, continues to trail his young countryman and, despite flashes of form - including some strong practice performances at Istanbul Park over the weekend, still appears a shadow of the man who retired with seven world titles under his belt at the end of the 2006 season.
Having led the pursuit of Sebastian Vettel in Saturday morning practice, hopes were high that Schumacher could post a competitive qualifying effort, but he would up only eighth fastest after complaining of a lack of grip. He later admitted that he had made a mistake on his fastest lap, which limited its potential early on, and predicted an action-packed race from the fourth row of the grid.
He was proved correct, but not in the way he had hoped, after a first lap collision with Renault's Vitaly Petrov sent him to the pits for a new front wing. From that point on, the 42-year old was always out of step with the frontrunners and unable to close the gap that had extended between them.
"I guess I was responsible for the result that I had," he conceded to the BBC
, "With Petrov, I guess it was mostly my mistake what happened there. I need to analyse it, as it was a bit strange that suddenly we got together and I lost my front wing, but the race was a given from there - lots of fighting, lots of action, but for nothing."
Asked whether he was enjoying himself this season, Schumacher admitted that things weren't going exactly as he had hoped in his second year back on the circuit.
"From where we came from [on the grid], going forward is better than still having to defend and, mostly, I was able to go forward," he mused, "But the big joy is not there right now."
Many observers have suggested that Schumacher is doing himself no favours by remaining in F1 while results and performances diminish his legacy of success, but the German remains optimistic that he and Mercedes can turn the season around.
"What we can take away from this weekend in Turkey is that we have confirmed our good trend, and we still have things to come to help us deliver more of our potential," he ventured.
"We have made improvements over the last two races, and closed the gap to the best which shows that we are heading in the right direction," Mercedes' Norbert Haug confirmed, "Michael had an eventful weekend and was very committed from lap one in the wet practice of Friday, [but] his clash with another car dictated the outcome of his race and cost him the time missing to finish in the points. We now look forward to Barcelona where we will try to improve our position further."