Michael Schumacher insists the Australian Grand Prix marked a step forward in his Formula 1 comeback, even though he only finished 10th.
The seven-time World Champion qualified seventh in Melbourne, but fell to the back at the start when his front wing was broken as contact between Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso sent the Ferrari spinning into the Mercedes. Schumacher struggled to get through the field thereafter, spending most of the race stuck behind Jaime Alguersuari's Toro Rosso. He eventually got through to 10th, thanks to late moves on Alguersuari and Pedro de la Rosa, and remained upbeat.
"I know that might sound awkward but I take a lot of good aspects from the race weekend in Melbourne," Schumacher said in a column on his personal website. "Of course, that does not show at first sight but looking into our weekend more deeply, I find we did improve quite well and have a good reason to be quite satisfied – just not from the pure result obviously."
He is confident that Mercedes is significantly faster than it was able to show in Australia.
"Analyzing qualifying I think both Nico [Rosberg] and me could have been ranked two or three positions better," said Schumacher. "I had a too-conservative setup in the end, which was too much concentrated toward the race, plus I had a tear-off strip stuck in my front wing, which also cost me some time. And going into the race from those better positions would have meant fighting for the podium.
"All that means that we are not too far away, and I am quite confident there will be more to come. So going to Malaysia we know that clearly we improved our pace since Bahrain, which is a good feeling.
"It was a lot of fun fighting in Melbourne even if it was just for one point, and I will enjoy fighting again in Sepang."