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Schumi plays down title chances

2012-02-09 08:15

F1 VETERAN: Michael Schumacher is under no illusions that his chances of winning the title behind the wheel of a Mercedes are slim, at least for another season.

Jerez, Spain - Michael Schumacher was hoping the late arrival of his new Mercedes would pay off after doing nearly two race distances in the 2011 car during the second afternoon of Formula 1 testing.

Despite despite setting a quickest lap that was meaningless on a day when rivals were trying out their new cars, Schumacher still played down his title chances.

The seven-times world champion drove 132 laps, with a best time of one minute 18.561 seconds, to gather tyre data on the new Pirelli rubber.

Mark Webber was quickest of those in the new machines, putting in 97 laps for champions Red Bull with a best time of 1:19.184 ahead of compatriot Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso.

World champion Sebastian Vettel takes over in the Red Bull, a day that should see more locals at the Jerez circuit with Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari after Felipe Massa did during the first two days.

Lewis Hamilton will take over from Jenson Button in the McLaren, the only one of the new crop of cars not to have a stepped nose.


Mercedes have decided not to run their 2012 car until the second pre-season test in Barcelona later in February to give them as much development time as possible.

Schumacher said: "It (bringing the car out late) maybe is an important factor because we have worked longer on our car. As I said before, I don't think we can realistically achieve a championship car from where we started last year.

"We have to build our way there. I'm confident we can do that, in future, but let's take it step by step," he said. The F1 veteran has not been on the podium since he began his comeback in 2010.

Schumacher said reliability was the main focus and Mercedes hoped to have learnt from the past.

Schumacher said: "Our programme is done in a way that we believe in it. I'm around to fight for the championship. Whether we can or cannot do it, that is something that will be proven this year, or whenever."


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