Michael Schumacher says he is confident of a strong showing from Mercedes in the Malaysian Grand Prix after the team showed impressive speed in qualifying for the season opener at Albert Park.
The seven-time champion qualified on the second row of the grid in Australia and ran in a podium position before being sidelined by a gearbox issue.
While the end result was disappointing, Schumacher preferred to look at the positives from the Melbourne weekend and said Mercedes would now look forward to a strong weekend on a more traditional circuit – with Albert Park not seen as a representative benchmark for the performance of the different cars.
"After the disappointment of how the first race in Melbourne turned out, I am flying to Malaysia with a big sense of anticipation, because we saw in Australia that our car is capable of putting us in the mix,” he said. “Of course, we haven't forgotten that the circuit in Melbourne is not really representative of the true competitive picture, but nevertheless the car gives me a good feeling for the season ahead.
“Sepang will be interesting for everybody because it will be the first clue to the real relative strengths of all the cars. The range of slow and fast corners give a good indication of where you are, which always makes the race in Malaysia fun for the drivers and engineers, and overall a big challenge for both man and machine. I'm looking forward to it."
Team boss Ross Brawn agreed that the team would be pushing hard in Malaysia to get the most out of the W03, insisting that the pace shown at the start of the Australian weekend had been an indication that the car is 'fundamentally good'.
“Despite a positive start, our first race weekend of the season in Australia did not turn out as we would have wished, and there has been, and will continue to be, a lot of hard work done before we take to the track again in Malaysia,” he said. “We have a fundamentally good car, now it is up to us to optimise its performance and achieve its potential on track."