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Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Friday, 9 April 2010 15:48 UK

Michael Schumacher insists F1 return is going to plan

Michael Schumacher and race engineer Andrew Shovlin (right)
Schumacher took his last win in China and returns hoping he can improve

Michael Schumacher insists his comeback with Mercedes is going "according to plan" despite a disappointing start.

He has nine points from the opening three races after front wing problems in Australia were followed by his first retirement of 2010, in Malaysia.

"The last two races have not been very fortunate to me," Schumacher, 41, said.

"But I know how things go in F1 and everything is still going according to plan. You can only improve step-by-step and I'm confident we're achieving it."

Schumacher finished sixth in Bahrain's 2010 curtain-raiser as Mercedes found themselves off the pace of rivals Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren.

A collision during the first lap of the Australian Grand Prix meant Schumacher had to make an extra stop for a front wing on his way to 10th, while his race ended prematurely in Malaysia because of a loose wheel nut.

The seven-time world champion is now looking forward to returning to the scene of his last win, in 2006, as he prepares for the Chinese Grand Prix on 18 April.

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"I am confident fans will not leave the race disappointed," Schumacher added. "Maybe things will play into our hands in Shanghai."

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn is also hopeful that circumstances will allow Schumacher, who he guided to five world titles at Ferrari, to answer his doubters in China.

"It would be particularly good for Michael to be able to have a clean race and show the progress that he has made since the start of the season," said Brawn.

"Michael is getting more up to speed with every race, although circumstances beyond his control limited his race performance in Melbourne and Sepang.

"We've achieved a reasonable set of results which are in line with the car's current pace but we have to be realistic and acknowledge that we are not quick enough to compete at the front at the moment."

Michael Schumacher

Schumacher has no doubts over F1 return

Mercedes chief executive Nick Fry has also warned that it would be "foolish" to write off the team, who won both titles in 2009 in their former Brawn guise.

Nico Rosberg, who has out-qualified and beaten Schumacher in each of the three races, claimed the team's first podium in Malaysia and Fry is confident Schumacher can build on Rosberg's third-place finish.

"We've got an extremely strong team and anyone who underestimates us is fairly foolish," Fry told autosport.com.

"Every race Michael is learning a bit more and it is all coming together. Michael is, for me, quite remarkable.

"The level of feedback he gives is something that I have never seen before, and it is just not in the debriefs.

"When you have the headphones on you hear amazing things. In qualifying he was driving around almost giving a commentary.

"He has taken the disappointment of what happened in Malaysia very well.

"He has taken away the positives again. I would not underestimate him."



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see also
Schumacher insists he can compete
29 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Judge me on results - Schumacher
25 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Michael Schumacher profile
14 Mar 11 |  Drivers & Teams
Schumacher signs up for F1 return
23 Dec 09 |  Formula 1
Schumacher's career in photos
29 Jul 09 |  Formula 1


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