Michael Schumacher says he is now feeling a lot more confident inside the Mercedes GP car following the updates introduced for the Spanish Grand Prix.
The German team is running several updates, including a longer wheelbase car, in Barcelona, with Schumacher also having reverted to the chassis he used during winter testing after struggling with its handling in the early part of the season. The changes saw Schumacher enjoy a promising start to the weekend, the seven-time champion setting the third fastest time behind the Red Bulls. Schumacher admitted he was feeling a lot more positive now.
"It's certainly feeling a lot more a race car into my hands than at least in China," Schumacher told reporters. "China we obviously haven't fully understood exactly, but nevertheless I'm feeling comfortable in the car.
"That's what I'm asking to do, if we can work very well with my engineers, my team. Obviously the improvement to the car certainly helps."
He added: "It's not about confidence, it's simply that the car goes where I want it to go and I don't have to wait too long to go to this point. The clear trend is there. We have improved, certainly – I have more ability to work the car to my needs, that's what it is, that's what I look for. The team has reacted very good, and now we look forward to make the best out of this."
He said his improved feeling of connection with the car confirms there was something wrong with his Mercedes in China, where he endured a difficult weekend.
"The matter of fact is with the car we have right now, we certainly have the ability to work it a lot more in directions that I'm looking for. That simple was not possible before," Schumacher said. "So, I'm feeling a lot more confident in what the car is doing to me. Again it sort of confirmed that China, whatever glitch it was, but something didn't work out for whatever reason, and that works back to a more normal situation."
Team principal Ross Brawn admitted, "I think we don't have a complete understanding of the reason for the lack of performance [by Schumacher] in Shanghai. As I have said before, Michael was making good progress. Any driver – even of the caliber of Michael – who comes back to Formula 1 after three years with just a few days testing, is going to find it quite a challenge. But what I saw was very good and steady progress through the first three races, so Shanghai was an anomaly, a blip, and there were areas of performance which we couldn't understand and you couldn't put down to driver ability or driver technique, so we changed the chassis as a precaution.
"That chassis had been damaged on the underside going over curbs," he added of Schumacher's China racecar. "We thought we had repaired it adequately, but we didn't, so that car has been properly repaired back at the factory and Michael is using the chassis that we used in testing. He is relatively happy with the car and I'd say today things are back to normal."