Mar.9 (PVM) After 4250 kilometres of pre-season testing in the cockpit of the Mercedes AMG W03, Michael Schumacher is cautiously optimistic about the 2012 Fomrula 1 world championship season which begins in Melbourne next weekend. The seven times world champion talks about the year ahead.
What is your feedback after the winter tests?
Michael Schumacher: The car is reliable which is already good. The first impression was already quite positive. We were driving out of the box with the car and everything went well, so there is potential. We are heading into the season much better prepared than in the past two years, and we can fully concentrate onto the development of our car.
The car is reliable but is it fast as well?
Schumacher: The speed is promising. I hope we can show that in Melbourne. We were able to drive a lot during the tests and therefore learn a lot too, and we certainly have made a step forward. Just that I would want to wait until after the first races to judge how big this step is and how much it is worth, compared to our competitors.
Why are you so cautious?
Schumacher: Because we have experienced last year that you can be very wrong relying on the data coming out of the winter tests. And because we can see that the field will be very narrow this year. I do not have a clear picture yet. What we can say though is that the gap between the several teams will not be as big as it has been last year.
Do you have a chance to win in Australia?
Schumacher: Victory for me is unlikely, I see Red Bull in front. Behind them it will be tight, and you can be either hero or zero very quickly. It will come down a lot to the ability of how well you will be setting up your car to the respective track.
Your contract is running until the end of the year. When will we know if you will extend it?
Schumacher: That’s just totally unimportant at the moment, I don’t even think about it now. Now, it is all about focusing and concentrating on understanding our car, so that we will have a positive season. I will certainly not have me nailed down here.
For the first time in history of F1 there are 6 world champions competing, what’s your view on that?
Schumacher: That’s fabulous. This speaks for F1, and it might [be the] guarantee for cool races and a lot of action. In any case, it makes me even more looking forward to the season!