Michael Schumacher's return to F1 racing with Mercedes GP was an important declaration by the marque of the seriousness of their intentions to get back to winning ways after decades away from the sport. It's taken six years to pull off, but finally they claimed their maiden win of the modern era in China - except it wasn't Schumacher who delivered it.

"I was there until the chequered flag, listening to the team radio and keeping my fingers crossed," said the former multiple world champion of the experience of having to watch the historic moment at Shanghai from the sidelines last week. "It was fantastic for the team.

"Even if it wasn't me who delivered it, I was so excited as it was important for the team to clock this success," he continued. "It was important for the vibes in the team, but also for the trust that our partners had put in us."

Can the team repeat that performance again this weekend - and moreover, will it be Michael Schumacher's turn to bask in the limelight rather than his young compatriot Nico Rosberg? He'll be trying his utmost, that's for sure.

"Of course, there's always the question of whether what we saw in Shanghai was just a flash in the pan or if we can pull that off at other races," he admitted. "Shanghai was one of those days where everything fell perfectly into place and of course we hope to repeat it at other races this season. Keep your fingers crossed!"

And next time, naturally he wants it to be his turn back at the top of the podium. "If you have the chance to be at the top you go for it - that's just natural, human nature," he said. "You always try to get the maximum possible out of a situation and maximize the result. The more you put in, the sweeter the reward!"

The team is certainly looking strong at Bahrain, but while Rosberg was putting in the best times of anyone in Friday practice, Schumacher couldn't outpace Lewis Hamilton or the two Red Bull cars.

"It was a bit unlucky that I had to abort my fastest lap due to traffic," said Schumacher of his practice sessions. "[But] Friday is to warm up, and the times mean nothing: the question is whether you were able to complete your programme properly and I have to say that it wasn't a bad start to the weekend."

However, the fact remains that Michael Schumacher isn't getting any younger. So how does he keep up with the young guns emerging in the F1 world like his fellow Germans Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel?

"One factor definitely is motivation - I am blessed in that motivation comes naturally to me, I don't have to artificially trigger it," he said. "I love competition and to be confronted with competition. Sure there are times when I also have to fight inner temptations, but that was also the case 20 years ago, so this has nothing to do with the here-and-now or age."

Still, it will all soon have to end (for a second time!) sooner rather than later - not that Schumacher's giving any clues about when that might be.

"I will sit down with the team when the time is right to discuss the future," was all he would say. "But there is nothing concrete I would be able to tell you right here, right now."


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