Mercedes fail to live up to the pre-race expectations 18 March, 2012 Michael Schumacher's race ended with a gearbox problem which forced him out of the race on lap 11 Mar.18 (Reuters) Michael Schumacher’s hopes of a first F1 podium since 2006 ended abruptly on the 11th lap of the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday but the seven times champion remained confident the new season would be better than the last two years. Nico Rosberg spent most of his race defending Two positive pre-season tests in Barcelona had indicated that the sport’s most successful driver, winner of a record 91 races, and Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg might be contenders this year. In the end, the younger German also failed to snare a point after finishing 12th. Schumacher, who retired from Ferrari in 2006 and began his comeback with Mercedes in 2010, showed with a strong qualifying performance that the car is competitive. Rosberg’s blistering start to the race, when he moved up from seventh to fourth, further bolstered that feeling. “It was especially unfortunate as we have not had this problem during the winter tests and were very reliable,” said Schumacher, now 43, who was running third when he had a gearbox problem going into a corner and had to run onto the grass. “This is why I am not concerned, as I know things like this happen in racing, and our reliability is not in question. I can still take some positives out of the weekend, as we have seen our car was confirming our feelings, and is definitely a clear step forward.” Team boss Ross Brawn, who led his eponymous team to the 2009 world title before they were bought by Mercedes, blamed tyre problems for the disappointing race but also felt that the pre-season optimism had not been misplaced. Michael Schumacher ran as high as third before he retired with a gearbox issue “We remain positive as both here and over the winter tests, we have demonstrated that we have a fundamentally quick car and we have a lot to build on,” he said. “So we need to look at what happened today, unravel the problem and work out where we need to improve.” Rosberg, seventh in the championship last year and a spot ahead of Schumacher, suffered a puncture when he made contact with Sauber’s Sergio Perez late in the race which knocked him out of the top 10. The 26-year-old also said, however, that he had been unable to maintain the pace evident in the early laps of the race and was looking forward to an improvement ahead of the second round of the championship at Sepang next week. “We have a lot of work to do to understand what went wrong, and how we can use the full potential which our car definitely shows,” he said. “I’m still positive as Malaysia is a completely different track so I’m looking ahead to next weekend now.” Subbed by AJN. Tweet Related NewsHamilton admits he did not want to stop in MelbourneTech Talk: Wings of change in MelbourneMercedes dedicate Melbourne victory to SchumacherRosberg: This thing was unbelievably quick, it was just the perfect start to the seasonMercedes: It was a day of light and shadowDid Mercedes breach fuel flow rules in Melbourne practice?Mercedes: Nico and Lewis free to race each other, team orders on case-by-case basisHamilton justifies favourite tag for Mercedes in epic Melbourne qualifying sessionMercedes: The points are won on SundayMercedes have discussed team orders in Melbourne Tamburello_1994 Schumacher’s got an excuse, What say you, Nico? Pamphlet I wouldn’t say they failed, more like Rosberg failed. Schuey looked very strong before he had his problems. Obvious Nico needs a swift kick in the kunt… He’s irritating, and his driving is fail, bad sportsman… Sometimes reminds me of HAM. He had no excuses, he couldn’t manage his tires, super obvious. I think the Merc is quick, very quick actually. Hope Schumi can make something of it this season… Prolly not the title winner, but a few podiums and maybe notch a win, would be cool. s schumacher was doing the job, and was on his way to the podium! it wasnt his fault! Obvious @s Agreed. Tamburello_1994 Vettel might of had something to say about that podium for M.S. folks, He was definitely on the come. I’m not convinced that Merc is as fast the Bulls yet, Need to suss that out in the races to come. (Just my opine) I say Michael gets on the steps this season and winning doesn’t look out of the question either. If they (Merc) ditches the stepped nose, Who knows? lol. Well, for all we know, with the safety car and differing strategies etc michael could have won. It’s impossible to say how the race would have been different had he not retired. I used to loathe him with a passion. When i look back at his early career, I still do. However, since his return, i find myself hoping he’ll get better and better and finally get that podium that’s elluding him me262 yeye im hoping Michael can get a podium soon so all you punters can have a wet dream. For me i dont think Mercedes have changed all that much for this race from last year as they were quick in a str8 line + qualy but not all there in race pace I also hope Nico gets his first win too & all you Nico bashers come out & show some face Alex Ye good points. During practice and quali they can use DRS everywhere and it might just compensate for all the other departments. (Didn’t have to push as hard in corners) I’m not sure if it is because of that or because of high fuel load Mercedes wasn’t looking as impressive in corners as it did in practice or quali. Obviously Nico was struggling with something.