MICHAEL SCHUMACHER insists he can still challenge for an eighth World Championship title despite a stuttering start to his comeback season.
The 41-year-old has come out of a three-year retirement to return to Formula One this year, but his Mercedes has been off the pace in the opening three races of the season.
Schumacher began his comeback with a sixth place in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on 14 March, but could only follow that up with a 10th in Australia and a retirement in Malaysia due to a wheel nut problem.
As a result, the German lies tenth in the drivers’ standings with just nine points – a full 30 points behind leader, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and 26 behind team-mate Nico Rosberg.
But despite his slow start, Schumacher insists he is not a spent force and is confident both he and Rosberg can challenge for honours, starting with this weekend’s China Grand Prix in Shanghai – home of Schumacher’s last F1 victory four years ago. “If we have a quick enough development speed there is no reason why we cannot fight for the championship,” he said.
“There is such a long season ahead and development is so important.
“Because the results have not been as great as some people have expected – and even myself I would love to have had better results – it is natural to not have some positive feedback in the media.
“But I know what I have been doing, I know what has been going on and I have no reason to be disappointed. I still feel very happy and if other people like it or not, that is their choice.”
F1 | STANDINGS
1 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 39pts
2 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 37
3 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 37
4= Jenson Button (McLaren) 35
4= Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 35
6 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 31
10 Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) 9