Michael Schumacher has received the full backing from his Mercedes GP team, which says it has no doubts the German can help deliver strong results despite his difficult race in Turkey last weekend.
Schumacher missed out on the points in Istanbul after losing time early on in a collision with Vitaly Petrov which required him to make an unscheduled stop for a new front wing. That left him too far down the order to join the fight for points, even though analysis of his pace over the full race distance showed it was better than many of the cars that finished in the top 10.
After admitting in the immediate aftermath of the grand prix that the race had not delivered him "big joy," speculation swirled that Schumacher was not enjoying F1 and that Mercedes GP could be forced to rethink the German's place in the team. However, Mercedes GP said on Tuesday that it remains firmly behind Schumacher, and it is convinced the seven-time World Champion is ready to produce the form that the team believes he is capable of.
"When success is missing, then criticism is a fact of life," Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug told AUTOSPORT. "When a seven-time World Champion like Michael Schumacher doesn't achieve success, criticism rains down upon him. I understand why: people expect the very highest level of performance from Michael and Mercedes, which is fully in line with our own targets.
"An analysis of Michael's lap times from practice and the race in Istanbul shows that he had good pace. Without the contact on lap two, and the time he subsequently lost having the front wing changed, he was quick enough to finish in sixth or seventh position. That speed isn't wishful thinking; it's a fact. With that kind of potential, results will follow of their own accord."
Haug said he was not surprised that Schumacher told the media he did not get much joy out of the Turkish GP, but believed that was to be fully expected from a man who has achieved such great success in the past.
"I can understand that Michael didn't have much fun on Sunday, racing so hard for 12th position knowing that, without his clash, he could have done better. I'm convinced he will [have fun] in Barcelona. We believe in our team, we believe in our drivers and we are working with calm and focus to achieve our targets."
Haug added that Mercedes GP never believed it would achieve instant success in F1, but thinks the progress the squad has made already this season is evidence that it eventually will reach its target.
"We started 18 months ago in our new configuration, and we're competing in a very challenging environment. Like every other successful team before us, we need time to learn and develop," he said. "This process is going in the right way and we've seen Nico [Rosberg] start from the second row in both of the last races. The fact that the 14 laps he led in China also currently put him equal second in this ranking, illustrates how dominant Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull has been so far this year."