Schumacher blames tyres for poor qualifying
By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport in Valencia
Michael Schumacher told his critics he is in Formula 1 for the long haul after his worst qualifying performance since coming out of retirement with Mercedes.
Schumacher, 41, lines up in 15th for the European Grand Prix in Valencia.
"I'm not here with a short-term view," said the German, whose driving also came in for heavy criticism at the last race in Canada.
"From my point of view we have a three-year programme. I've had to deal with much worse pain."
Schumacher was on the verge of failing to get through the first phase of qualifying at Valencia's street circuit because of handling and braking problems with his car.
After grappling the car into the second session, Schumacher could only qualify in 15th - 0.670 seconds adrift of Sebastian Vettel's pole for Red Bull and behind his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in 12th.
The team blamed the problem on an inability to get their tyres working over a single lap, and Schumacher remained philosophical about hitting a new season low.
"I'm not happy or excited about P15 - that's natural," added Schumacher, who is ninth in the 2010 drivers' championship.
"But it's part of the process in a way and part of the joy from a different point of view.
"Obviously we thought we would be closer and in a better situation but we have to work our way through it as we did in the past.
"Once the progress comes in, which I'm sure it will, then you get rewarded."
Schumacher's struggles in Valencia come two weeks after he found himself under fire for his performance in Canada, where he finished 11th.
The seven-time world champion was criticised after forcing Renault's Robert Kubica onto the grass and for a late squeeze on Felipe Massa's Ferrari.
But Schumacher shrugged off suggestions that the criticism was getting to him.
It's a curious thing but it's the pain that makes the pleasure so much better
F1 veteran Michael Schumacher
"I've been around long enough," he said.
"I know what's going on and I care only for motorsport, what I know and what I have to worry from."
Rumours in Valencia have linked the highly rated Kubica with a move from Renault to Mercedes for 2011, and although both sides denied any discussions took place it is another measure of the pressure Schumacher is facing.
Mercedes boss Ross Brawn, who masterminded all seven of Schumacher's crowns, cast aside any doubts over the German's future with the team, although he did not directly answer a question asking whether Schumacher would still be with the team in 2011.
"We haven't spoken to Robert Kubica," said Brawn. "There are no discussions going on, we're very happy with Michael.
"We have to sort the car out; that's the main issue. We're confident that when we get the technical package together our drivers will succeed.
"It's a curious thing but it's the pain that makes the pleasure so much better.
"Having been in this business so long you know you will have periods like this.
"But it is a pain that we all put ourselves through and if you can't handle this pain then you shouldn't be involved."