x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Schumacher remains optimistic Mercedes can challenge

Michael Schumacher remains optimistic that he and Mercedes GP can challenge for race victories and podium finishes this season despite their ignominious start to the season.

Michael Schumacher remains optimistic that he and Mercedes GP can challenge for race victories and podium finishes this season despite their ignominious start to the season.

The seven-time world champion failed to reach the final part of qualifying at last month's Australian Grand Prix, lining up only 11th, and he then had his race ruined when his car was hit by Jaime Alguersuari's Toro Rosso on the first lap, before mechanical problems put him out of the race.

Nico Rosberg fared little better, running off the pace, but in the points, before he was forced out following a collision with Rubens Barrichello's Williams.

Despite their no score, which came after an encouraging pre-season, Schumacher is upbeat ahead of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

"Everybody in the team remains positive and is in a fighting mood," he said.

"So I expect a better weekend for us to come; a weekend we can build on."

Schumacher came out of retirement to race for Mercedes last season, but failed to finish on the podium all year. However, the German claims that he is not worried about the lack of pace in Melbourne.

"There is absolutely no doubt we want to do better than in the opening race, which was a disappointment for all of us," he said.

"We clearly see that as a challenge and it is much too early to write us off."

The team only finished fourth in the constructors' standings last season, but Ross Brawn, the Mercedes team principal, said all eyes within the team were on ensuring a more competitive showing at the Sepang circuit.

"Our priority since Melbourne has been to regroup back at our factories ..., to review the weekend in detail, and to establish the best way to achieve the full potential of the car from Malaysia onwards," the Englishman said.