Schumacher: 'It does not look very good'

World champion Michael Schumacher admitted in Malaysia on Sunday that his chances of retaining his crown for a sixth consecutive year are already not looking good after just two races of the season.

Ferrari were way ahead of the competition last year as they dominated the championship and won 16 of the 18 races on their way to their sixth consecutive constructors’ title.

But this season has seen them plunge down the order, and after opening his championship account with seventh place in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix, Schumacher admitted there is a long way to go for the struggling champions.

“At the moment, it does not look very good,” said Schumacher. “There’s different areas in which we have to work, we know that, and it’s clear we all have to work together to raise our game.

“But we will do that and we will do it successfully.”

Renault have started the season on a high with victory in the first two races in Australia and Malaysia but Ferrari are still using their old 2004 car and have a new one ready to be introduced.

Next week, the team will test the machine, which is said to be faster by between half a second and a full second per lap, to decide whether it is reliable enough to take to the next race in Bahrain.

And Schumacher added: “Obviously the other teams were doing a better job in several areas. We have to improve in all those different areas.
We can see that in comparison with the other teams our [current] car is not the best.

“When I came here I didn’t expect a very strong race, but Friday and Saturday morning it didn’t look too bad. But there was a lot of work behind me today—we had a lot of hard work for two points.”

Ferrari’s tyre suppliers, Bridgestone, have been singled out for criticism but Schumacher insisted: “I think it’s extremely wrong to concentrate on just one factor. We have won together and we lose together.”

The full picture of the season, which at 19 races is the longest to date in the history of the sport, is yet to be revealed, however, and Schumacher believes Ferrari are not as far behind as results suggest.

His teammate Rubens Barrichello, who finished second in the Australian Grand Prix, is currently third in the championship and Schumacher believes there is still plenty more to come from the world title holders.

“Don’t forget that Sepang has always been a very difficult race for us, if not to say the most difficult,” said Schumacher, who now has just two points compared with championship leader Fernando Alonso’s 16.

“I can see it is hard to understand that we win 16 races in a season, then coming here we are fighting for seventh position. But if you look back, I always said things can turn around very fast and it’s not down to one track at all.”—Sapa-AFP