Michael Schumacher described the first day of practice for Mercedes as “promising” after setting the pace in the afternoon session. The seven-time world champion featured near the top of the timesheets throughout both sessions as Mercedes followed up on their encouraging winter form.
Schumacher wouldn't go as far to say he was confident for the weekend ahead but admitted he could “feel” that he had a good car underneath him.
“Today was a nice start into a hopefully exciting season, and certainly two promising sessions for us. However, I would not go so far as to speak about being confident, as the weather conditions were too mixed to gain a clear picture. We know what Friday sessions are for and don't know what fuel loads others were running. On the other hand, it is good to see that we were competitive in different circumstances today and that the car provides good handling – I just feel it.”
Schumacher was third in the combined classification with teammate Nico Rosberg a strong sixth and the 26 year old was similarly buoyant, saying he felt instantly comfortable with the W03.
“I'm pleased with the start to our weekend today in these mixed conditions. We learned a lot for the race here in Melbourne over the two sessions, so it was a very productive day. I feel very comfortable in the car which is the most important thing for me today. So all went well and we had no surprises, however to find out where we really are compared to the others was impossible in these conditions. So I'm really looking forward to the next two days here.”
Team Principal Ross Brawn is already turning his attention to tomorrow's final practice session with the teams desperate for a fully dry session ahead of qualifying.
“It's obviously been a patchy day with the weather conditions, however we have achieved a reasonable amount of work on varying fuel levels. Whilst the overall picture is still not clear, Michael and Nico seem quite happy with the cars at the end of today's two practice sessions. Tomorrow should see a dry morning, and we will start to get a better perspective. Everything ran smoothly today which is a tribute to the team, and everyone at our factories in Brackley and Brixworth has done a very good job to prepare for this first race. So far at least, it's going well.”
Norbert Haug was delighted with the start the team has made to the new season and is eager to see what they can achieve tomorrow.
“A decent start for us on this first Friday of the new Formula One season. Michael felt well in our new car, as did Nico. Both drivers concentrated on race simulations with different programmes, and both were on the medium tyres as the team took the decision to save a set of options for the better track conditions tomorrow. Our team worked perfectly today which gave us a good start into the new season.”