x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Schumacher defends comeback

The seven-time world champion feels no shame in finishing behind teammate Rosberg following concerns by Barrichello that he was risking his reputation.

Michael Schumacher has defended his performances since his to return to Formula One following concerns raised by Rubens Barrichello, his former teammate, that he was risking his reputation with a comeback. The seven-time world champion finished sixth at the opening race of the season in Bahrain - his first Grand Prix for three years - and was beaten by his younger Mercedes GP teammate Nico Rosberg, who was fifth.

Barrichello, 37, who partnered Schumacher at Ferrari between 2000 and 2005, believes that an uncompetitive season for the German driver could tarnish his previous achievements that include winning 91 races. Speaking ahead of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, Barrichello, who now drives for Williams-Toy-ota, said: "I think he can do well this year, but when he left he was winning all the time, so for me, he has more to lose than gain."

Schumacher stood by his display in Sakhir, despite being out-paced in every practice session by Rosberg and then trailing him home in the race, one of only a handful of times in his career that he has been beaten by a teammate. "[Rosberg's] a very good and fast driver so I don't think I need to be ashamed of where I have been in Bahrain," he said. Schumacher refused to be drawn on what his targets are for the season, but said: "I think it's fair enough to be judged on results, absolutely, I don't feel I need to give guidelines or references, when and how I will achieve them.

"I'm mainly here for the enjoyment but at the same time, I'm not only here for being last, I want to win. That's natural. "The joy is much better and hig-her if you be successful ... Maybe I'm a little bit addicted to challenge. That's true." Meanwhile, Mark Webber, the Red Bull-Renault driver, has denied speculation that he is considering retiring at the end of the season. The Australian, who enjoyed his best season in 2009 with two Grands Prix wins and finished fourth in the title race, said: "I have no intention at all of retiring give or take whatever season I have.

"I'm very happy at the moment, enjoying driving for the guys that I am driving for, so it's a very, very good situation for me." @Email:gcaygill@thenational.ae