Michael Schumacher is hoping that the new Mercedes, which has shown promising pace this season, will help him to reverse a perceived run of bad luck that has plagued him at the Chinese Grand Prix.
I’ve never had much luck in Shanghai, apart from my win in 2006,” said the seven-time world champion. “However that could change this year.
“In the first two races of 2012, we didn’t manage to maintain our qualifying pace in race conditions. We’ve been working intensively on this, so that we can offer our fans a strong performance in China.”
Next weekend will be Schumacher’s sixth appearance at this race. He claimed his 91st and latest victory in Shanghai in the 2006, but the other five events in China were weekends to forget for the German.
Schumacher has spun-out in qualifying (2004), crashed on the way to the grid (2005), languished in tenth whilst team-mate Nico Rosberg was on the podium (2010), and last year suffered arguably the worst race since his comeback, eventually finishing a lowly fourteenth.
Despite the promising qualifying pace – Schumacher was third on the grid at the last race in Malaysia – race day for Mercedes has proved a lot more difficult. The point that Schumacher picked up in Kuala Lumpur is the only one the team have scored so far this season, with tyre management problems, racing incidents and technical problems all causing them to miss out on points in the opening two races.
However, Rosberg has done well in China in recent years, and is optimistic of kick-starting his season this weekend.
“I have good memories of the Chinese Grand Prix as I was on the podium there in 2010 and led the race last year,” he said. “I like the Shanghai International Circuit very much with its many unique, long corners.
“For me, China is really the start of the season as the first two races have not gone to plan. The track is quite different to the first two, as it demands more from the front tyres than the rears – in other words, what is termed a front-limited circuit.
“We know that we have a quick car, but we are looking to improve our long run pace in China next weekend and to have a better race performance.”
Team Principal Ross Brawn said that the team have been carefully looking back at the opening two races of the season to work out why the results have not been as good as they would have expected. He hopes that the fruits of this analysis will be shown in Shanghai.
“The Chinese Grand Prix takes place at the very impressive Shanghai International Circuit and has really established itself on the Formula One calendar in recent years,” he said. “China is an important and growing market for our sport, and indeed for Mercedes-Benz, and we look forward to our annual visit next week.
“On track, we hope that the weekend will prove more successful than the first two races of the season where our race results did not match expectations after a positive start to both weekends.
“A lot of hard work and analysis has taken place back at the factory since our return, and I hope to see these efforts pay dividends next Sunday in Shanghai with a performance which reflects the capabilities of the F1 W03.”