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Schumacher plays down pole talk

Michael Schumacher plays down suggestions that Mercedes are favourites for pole at Sepang
Michael Schumacher has played down talk that this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix could see him secure a first pole position since coming out of retirement at the start of the 2010 season.

The seven-time champion took a place on the second row of the grid in Melbourne last weekend for the opening round of the year and ran well in the early stages of the race before being forced to retire with a gearbox issue.

Speaking in Sepang ahead of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, Schumacher said he felt there would be no repeat of those issues as Mercedes seeks to open its account for the season; with team-mate Nico Rosberg having also failed to score at Albert Park.

The German did however concede that the team has work to do to find more speed in race trim to match the qualifying performance displayed in Melbourne.

“Well, it is a one-off,” he said of his trouble last weekend. “We did quite a few thousand kilometres in winter testing and never had this issue. We understood it though, and fixed it.

“We certainly understood in Melbourne that we have to do a better job in terms of race pace. I don't think we would have been able to achieve a podium in Melbourne, despite going all the way through. Probably a fifth place would have been the max that we could have had. Nevertheless, we have good ideas how to improve on what we learned from Melbourne. Whether that means we're going to be on the podium or not, that's another story because you obviously have at least four cars which are very strong, with two McLarens, two Red Bulls and then you have quite a big group of cars which are very close to each other. So it's going to be a challenge for all of us.”

Many observers put Schumacher's qualifying pace in Australia down to the unique duct on the car, that is believed to work when the DRS system is activated to channel air onto the wing to provide an added boost.

However, Schumacher said that the device – which the FIA has insisted is legal – wouldn't automatically guarantee him pole position.

“Certainly not,” he said. “There is no doubt that we have an innovation that gives us some performance but I don't think that it is a huge performance and that we only live from this. We'll find out. I can't really quantify this.

“I think some get a little bit too excited about this compared to reality but that's the usual story.”

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Serious4play - Unregistered

March 22, 2012 4:03 PM

Lets hope he has better fortune this weekend I think it's great to see someone display that they can still be competitive at his age for all us over 40's. I would say we will be in for a treat this weekend no matter how it pans out as the racing looks close this year.

Dave - Unregistered

March 22, 2012 5:05 PM

While I am quite certain MS is a long shot for pole, the irony would be added salt to the wounds of the Tifosi, and I can just imagine the headlines in the Italian media. Ah, the changing fortunes of F1.

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