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Exclusive interview with Michael Schumacher: Still abundance of job to do



By presently over 2 weeks to go awaiting the Bahrain GP, Eleven teams are testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya this week. Mercedes GP are between those in action, keen to make the most of the declining track time left before March’s Sakhir race. Although Schumi only managed to clock the seventh-fastest time in the MGP W01 on Friday, he remains confident his car won’t let him down as he targets a fruitful 2010 season…

Q: Michael, after this test the next stop is Bahrain. Are you satisfied with the car?

Michael Schumacher: Only the future will show if it’s a winner. We are working very hard and there is still a lot of work to do. I would not say that at the moment it is all going according to plan, but on the other hand I know that the car here in Barcelona is not the car that I will drive in Bahrain. There are still upgrades that are missing, so it is quite difficult to make a valid judgment of where we are. But in general, I would say that I don’t see any reason why we should not have a say on the championship.

Q: What was your programme on Friday?

MS: We tried to do a long run, but it was cut short to an extent by several red flags. We had a small technical issue too, so we refocused on the set-up.

Q: What are your thoughts on Friday’s lap times? Nico Hulkenberg was fastest for Williams…

MS: Yes, that was a little surprising, although we all know that Nico is very fast. I have to admit that I haven’t gone through all the times and data yet, but still – hats off!

Q: Have you got something up your sleeve?

MS: I always have…

Q: Does the car feel faster than it was at the last test?

MS: Well, that is the nature of Formula One. You develop the car, and normally you go faster. So far it is working that way.

Q: Do you think the car will be able to challenge for victory in Bahrain?

MS: Maybe not.

Q: What are your thoughts on the pace of Red Bull?

MS: I just got out of my car, so excuse me if I’m not ready to give you a complete and detailed analysis of our competitors. We have not been as fast today as we would have liked to have been, but that is all I can say at the moment.

Q: Does Ferrari have the upper hand at the moment?

MS: I could answer, but I wouldn’t know if it was true. I would need to look at the data to get an impression of what everybody was doing.

Q: What is different about testing at Barcelona?

MS: First of all there’s a difference in lap times. There are tracks where you can see from the speed or the sector times if somebody is running on high or low fuel, and there are tracks where that’s difficult or not possible. It is difficult to tell at Barcelona. You might find that someone who appears to be slow actually has the best pace.

Q: What is the car’s handling like?

MS: I am pretty surprised by how good the car feels, even with a full tank.

Q: Do you have an advantage over the other drivers because during your career you’ve driven cars built with similar regulations in mind?

MS: No. There is a notion that experience can make a difference, but the circumstances are always so specific and new that everybody has to come to terms with them.

Q: With a limited number of test days available to them, do drivers have to limit their programmes or work more efficiently?

MS: You have to work more efficiently. When I look back at 2005, we tested for over 95,000 kms and made a huge leap forward. Testing doesn’t automatically mean progress – you have to know how you should test and what you should test. In this respect, the teams are all well equipped. They all have simulation programmes and structures set up already back at their factories that enable them to determine the direction of their test schedule.

Q: Germany seems to be looking forward to seeing you battle with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. Are you excited?

MS: I am honestly looking forward to it. Sebastian is a nice chap and we’ve already done things together, and that has always been fun. I’m looking forward to it.

Q: Are you enjoying pushing the car to the limit?

MS: Naturally, in testing it’s the only satisfaction you have. You push the car to the limit and you try to be precise and consistent. So the challenge is with yourself and you drive against the stopwatch. Over a race weekend you have direct reference – here, you don’t.

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