After all the pre-season hype, the Melbourne paddock banter about its clever F-duct system and a strong showing in qualifying, Mercedes failed to shine in last Sunday’s season opener. The situation has many paddock regulars confused as to just how good the new W03 really is.
“Good question,” Michael Schumacher told Bild newspaper at an event this week in Malaysia. “We don’t know yet.”
Agreed Finnish commentator and former F1 driver Mika Salo: “It’s going to be interesting. Malaysia requires a lot more from a car aerodynamically than does Australia.
“I am sure McLaren will still be at the front, but Red Bull and Mercedes will probably be closer.”
So what happened to Mercedes’ early promise in Australia?
“In the race we had some problems, especially with the tyres – they degraded too quickly,” revealed team boss Ross Brawn.
But for Sepang, “We have an idea about how we can get it under control,” he added.
If that is true, then Sir Jackie Stewart is looking forward to seeing “the old Michael Schumacher” for the first time since he initially retired in 2006.
“He is driving well again,” the famous Scot told Kolner Express newspaper, “but so too is Nico Rosberg.
“They have a much better car than last year, and Michael is finally showing what he is capable of. I don’t know if that will be (good enough for) victories, but for sure we will see him again on the podium.”