Mike Stevens | Apr 2, 2010

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER bristled in Malaysia when asked whether failing to record higher than a sixth place finish on his return to F1 so far has been "disappointing".

"Why?" the seven time world champion told reporters in Kuala Lumpur, where in rainy conditions on Wednesday he demonstrated last year's Brawn car in Mercedes colours in the shadow of the famous Petronas Twin Towers.

"That is what people like to see at the moment, but it's not what I see," the 41-year-old German added.

Schumacher was outqualified by Nico Rosberg, whose points tally is more than double that of his famous teammate, in both Bahrain and Australia.

In response to reports that his comeback has been underwhelming so far, the German said: "I'm sorry that my opinion is different to what some media feel I should be happy with or not happy with. But it's a free opinion from everybody.

"I am quite happy. I have made the maximum out of my possibilities and from what we can do," he added.

His Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn backed Schumacher by insisting a two or three-race readjustment to F1 following three years of retirement is "normal".

And Norbert Haug, the German marque's racing director, agreed that during that readjustment period, Schumacher is not being disgraced by Rosberg, whose four-year F1 career has included the three seasons in which Schumacher was absent.

"I think (Nico) is one of the highest-rated guys of the current generation," Haug is quoted as saying by the Sun.

"Michael is missing three years of these four (Rosberg) years but he is here to be competitive. We have one of the strongest driver pairings in the field," added the German.

F1's youngest driver Jaime Alguersuari spent much of the Melbourne race last Sunday fighting with Schumacher, but the 20-year-old Spaniard is not expecting to be on the same section of track as the winner of 91 races later in 2010.

"I think he will end the season in the top group," the Toro Rosso driver told AS newspaper.

(GMM)

 

Paddock Muses Wheels, Ride-Heights, F-Ducts And Mirrors

Red Bull has made a tweak to its wheel nuts and hubs, after back-to-back pole sitter Sebastian Vettel speared out in Melbourne whilst leading last Sunday.

The team's reliability problems, dating back to Vettel's failed spark plug in Bahrain, were the talk of the Sepang paddock on Thursday, but it was not the only point of discussion.

Also on the agenda was the news that Sauber will try a modified version of the McLaren-style 'F-duct' system on its C29 on Friday, after the results of the prototype system at Albert Park last Friday were not overly positive.

"If it works, fine. If not, we will wait one more grand prix. But we are pushing 100 per cent on this," said Pedro de la Rosa.

Vettel said Red Bull is also working on a version, but doubted that it will be ready for the big car upgrades in Barcelona.

"The system is more useful than KERS," the German told Auto Motor und Sport. "Did you see how Hamilton passed Rosberg (in Australia)?"

Another technical talking point at Sepang is the FIA's ban on outboard-mounted rear view mirrors, with a spokeswoman for the governing body confirming that teams "have been asked to act" ahead of the next race in China.

Red Bull is among those most unhappy about the move, amid speculation the push by rival teams to have the mirrors banned is just part of an effort to haul in the dominant pace of the energy drinks-owned team.

Although on the grounds of safety, a mid-season rule change with such dramatic aerodynamic consequences is at the very least controversial, with one paddock source hinting that if Red Bull does not alter its car for China, the RB6 will still be allowed to race.

How Red Bull is altering the ride-height of its RB6 between qualifying and the race is essentially a mystery at present, but Mark Webber insists his car is legal for now.

"Our car has passed all the regulations. Until we get pulled out for something, obviously things change," said the Australian.

(GMM)

 

'Shabby' Sepang Eyes Revamp To Please Ecclestone

Malaysia's F1 venue is "tired" and needs a "revamp", track boss Razlan Razali admitted at the Sepang circuit.

It was the first of the new wave of Hermann Tilke-designed tracks to join the formula one calendar, but the inaugural event now dates back 12 years.

Razali told the Singapore newspaper Today that, for example, the rooves of the unique grandstands are in need of major repairs after years of exposure to the weather.

"We need to revamp the whole circuit," he admitted. "The membrane on the roof of our main grandstand has already outlived its usefulness and has to be replaced.

"We are still 'version 1', but I am not saying Sepang should be like Abu Dhabi, which is already 'version 1001', but at least our track needs to get on par with Shanghai and Bahrain," said Razlan.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said three years ago that the track had become "shabby", but there have been only minor renovations.

Razali said the cost of bringing Sepang up to Ecclestone's expectations is more than $60 million.

"Without it (the money), we have been able to improve only the paddock area, which Bernie usually frequents.

"But, seriously, lots more need to be done, there are cracks here and there that need patching," he added.

He said the Malaysian government was fully supportive of the grand prix for the first "four or five years" but then "lost interest".

"Maybe with the change in leadership, some ministries did not think Sepang and motor sport were important to Malaysia," said Razali.

Government officials visited the track last week.

"It is a good sign," said Razali. "I think with Lotus F1 on the grid and our very own Fairuz Fauzy in the team, interest from the government is returning.

"Should they approve our request for funds, we can get to work immediately and get Sepang up to speed by next year."

(GMM)

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