Q & A with Michael Schumacher

After a somewhat low-key return to racing in Bahrain, Michael Schumacher insists he is relaxed about his form and that he only needs time

Q & A with Michael Schumacher

He talked to reporters ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, and AUTOSPORT was there.

Q. Did Bahrain turn out as you expected? Or were you slightly disappointed to see your team-mate was ahead of you in every session, so rare in your career for that to happen?

Michael Schumacher: Yeah, that's true, but it's pretty rare that I have taken a three-year break, so. All in all I've been quite happy with how things were going, how the progression was going, understanding where I sort of have to improve, where we have get the car and how we have to develop. All in line and pretty much meeting expectations. I wasn't dreaming of coming here and kick everybody's ass. Neither I got kicked, so quite okay.

Q. Do you feel very differently prepared for this weekend?

MS: I'll tell you later, I don't know. You have to drive to see.

Q. Do you feel it was a bit like going back to school in Bahrain?

MS: In a way it is. There is a toy that you used to love, then you got sort of bored of it and then you fell back in love with it.

Q. Do you think people are expecting too much?

MS: If these people expect, then fine. People have a lot of trust in me and I'm proud of that. But I'm not a magician either, I'm just human. I knew the process. I've been long enough to know what it takes. How much attention to detail and how much fine-tuning you need. You can't expect me to be there straight away.

Q. And what about your body and all that? Was that good?

MS: Due to the speed it is much less of an effort from what I expected it to be. I've always trained to be more than fit and that's not changed.

Q. Do you find the cars much slower now?

MS: I don't know what is the real difference in lap time, because the first race was at a different track, but it feels quite a bit slower, maybe because I'm more fit. I don't know what it is, but it feels less of an effort.

Q. Is that a bad thing?

MS: In a way it makes it easier for maybe those who have struggled in the past, as they don't have that effort to put in. But I don't think it's a big thing for me. It's just about finding the details of the car and getting into it. Improve step by step. It's different cars, different tyres and different rules, so you sort of need to understand that.

Q. How many races have you given yourself to get up to speed?

MS: As long as it takes.

Q. Niki Lauda said you shouldn't be judged until after the third race. Is that a fair comment?

MS: I'll take the time that I feel I need. Whether you guys or Niki or whoever has a guideline for themselves that's fair, that's up to them.

Q. Which was the best aspect of your race in Bahrain?

MS: In general I was quite happy. I had a good start. I had a clean race with no mistakes. The lap times were competitive for our car standard. So all in all for me it was a good start after this kind of break. I was quite happy with this.

Q. Did you take pleasure?

MS: Yes, I did. It's slightly less than (expected) because the cars are slightly slower and the sharpness of the car is less than it used to be. It is maybe different to what it was at the end of 2006. It is mainly tyre-related, because we had a much stronger tyre in 2006, because there was competition from different tyre manufacturers.

Q. Do you have a view on the result of the new regulations?

MS: The matter of fact was that there was basically no overtaking, yes. If you go back, tell me when and where there has been more overtaking, because Formula 1 always had this sort of situation, due to the strategy. You had more scope, and you have less now.

That's what it was done to improve and if you go back to previous years there's very clever people and always think how to improve and go better. Sometimes they succeed more, sometimes less. But it's very tough. We can't make motorbikes out of Formula 1 cars. That's not possible.

Q. How far behind Red Bull do you think your team will be here?

MS: We have a fair amount to catch up, yes.

Q. There were reports last week that you weren't planning to rejoin the GPDA, can you clarify that?

MS: Yes, it's true. I'm not intending. After all the years I have been involved in setting it up they guys have been doing a good job for three years. I don't think they need me. And as I'm not here for the long-term future, only for a limited time, I don't think I should get involved.

Q. You talked about getting the car to your style and about the front end, but we never heard that from you in the past. Is that because Ferrari knew what direction to go in?

MS: Did I talk about the front end?

Q. After Bahrain, you said the front tyres were limited.

MS: Yeah, the front tyres, but that's nothing to do with the car. The matter of fact is that we have to sort of develop ourselves. The tyres are the same, and they do cause a weaker front end, but then obviously other guys can deal with it, so it's up to us to do a better job.

Q. There were rumours that you didn't want to join the GPDA because you didn't want to pay the fee.

MS: I don't know who out these rumours out, but I guess I have money to pay the fee.

Q. What would you call success this year?

MS: Why do you want to fix me on something so that you can come back at the end and say 'Ahh, you were much worse than you said'? [laughter]

Q. What would you like to be judged on?

MS: I think it's fair enough to be judged on results. But I don't think I need to give guidelines or references.

Q. Are you here for the enjoyment or do you think you have something to prove?

MS: Mainly I'm here for the enjoyment, but I'm not here to be last. I want to win, that's natural. The joy is better is you are successful.

Q. Are you addicted to F1?

MS: Maybe I'm a little bit addicted to challenge, that's true.

Q. Do you think the picture can change here compared to Bahrain?

MS: Absolutely. That's what I have been saying so far. But not necessarily what comes out of here will be what we can see in the race after.

Q. Is Nico better than you expected?

MS: I don't think I had a particular expectation. It's no secret that he's a top pilot, with lots of potential. We both are references to each other. He's doing a very good job, he's a very good team-mate. He focuses on very similar subjects, that's quite important.

Q. If you had a better car, would you be avoid all those questions?

MS: No, I'd have different questions then. Put it this way: if you see Nico and myself, I think the maximum performance we could have achieved was what we achieved. And that's where the car is at the moment. But then it's up to us to get there. It's tough work, Formula 1. It's a big challenge, and that's what we are here for. It's the reason for being around and come to the sport.

Q. Does it bother you that people talk about Nico being ahead of you?

MS: It's normal. It was the other way around maybe in the past, but it was the first race, the beginning of a new challenge for me. So I'm quite relaxed about that. He's a very good and fast driver, so I don't think I need to be ashamed about where I was in Bahrain.

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