Michael Schumacher insists that it is unrealistic for him to fight for victory in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix despite Mercedes making a step forward over the winter.
Both Mercedes drivers were in the thick of the action at the front of the field in qualifying on Saturday. Nico Rosberg and Schumacher were first and third in Q2, before having to settle for seventh and fourth, respectively, in Q3. However, despite starting from the second row, Schumacher said his focus overnight will not be on trying to score a 92nd career victory.
"I'm not dreaming too much about winning this race," the seven-time World Champion told reporters. "Yes, we're fourth, but we have strong guys in front of us. We'll hopefully have a chance to jump on the podium, that's not completely unrealistic. To win from where we are...it's too early to talk about that."
Schumacher added that he was not surprised to be closer to the front than last year, but he was caught out by the Q3 performance of McLaren, and the struggles of Red Bull, the teams sharing the first and third rows of the grid, respectively.
"I think it is no surprise where we are," he said. "And I think it will be no surprise if we are going to look reasonably good tomorrow in the race. But don't forget the other guys look good, too.
"I was surprised to see the difference McLaren pulled from Q2 to Q3, as everybody was close basically the whole weekend and then suddenly in Q3 there was a bigger gap. It's more or less what we would have expected from winter testing, with the exception that Red Bull, we all expected, to be in front of us."