Michael Schumacher says he is enjoying the competitiveness of the 2012 Formula 1 field, despite the fact that it means the top teams can fall further down the order if they have a bad weekend.
The early races have provided plenty of shocks already this year, with smaller teams able to upset the usual front-runners on several occasions. The seven-time World Champion believes that is a good thing for the sport.
"I think it is very exciting," he said of the competitiveness of the midfield teams. "If you don't manage to get everything right you are stuck behind people and you can't get through, which can be frustrating.
"It's fun if you see the side we had in Shanghai [where Mercedes ran at the front], not the side we had in Malaysia [where it struggled with tires]. Not hitting it spot-on means you can be first or 10th. Take Sebastian [Vettel] in China, out in Q2. This is what we have to live with."
Schumacher believes that puts increased pressure on teams to deliver, but he does not expect it to be easy for a team to achieve its maximum every race.
"Everything is so tight," he said. "If you imagine every race weekend we start with a puzzle with a thousand pieces, and you have to put them together in the best way.
"It is possible to get the puzzle together, maybe not always spot-on. But then it is a question of each track with its different characters. Will your car fit with these? This is another point as well as getting it right or wrong.
"Bahrain will be very different [to China] – very hot temperatures, which is to be expected. But what does that mean [for the competitive order]?"