Michael Schumacher declared himself ‘quite happy’ with the performance of his Mercedes during Free Practice in China today after setting the fastest time over the two Friday sessions.
However, the seven-time world champion realises there is still work to do – the team have scored just one point in the opening two races of 2012 – but is confident that he will start picking up results soon.
“It was a trouble-free day, and I am quite happy with how our car is handling so far here,” said the German. “The balance of the car was reasonably good, and obviously a balanced car contributes a lot to lap time.
“As a team, we are a lot stronger in certain areas this season, and we have a much better base to work from, although we are not quite where we want to be with this car yet but I am confident we will get there.
“We will now have to look deeper into the data in order to find out where we really are here, but I am looking forward to tomorrow’s qualifying.”
Team-mate Nico Rosberg finished the day as only the fifth fastest driver, but is confident that things will improve as the weekend continues.
“It’s important for us at the moment that we try a lot of different evaluations during practice to improve our race pace,” he said. “So I think it was a decent start to the race weekend today as we learned quite a few interesting things.
“The conditions were so changeable today that it was difficult to take the right decisions in terms of set-up work, and we struggled a little with the front tyres. That may have been caused by the cold temperatures today, and can change very quickly between now and the race, so I am not too concerned.”
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn acknowleged that race pace will be key this weekend as the team aim to finish well towards the front of the field.
“We had a useful second session on the dry track this afternoon and were able to carry over some of the work that we wanted to do this morning to ensure that we completed our planned programme,” he said. “Whilst our low fuel runs look good, our primary focus has been on race pace and working to understand the tyres so that we can use them as well as possible on Sunday.”