Australian GP: disappointing start for Michael Schumacher and Mercedes image

After a promising winter testing and competitive times in practice, Michael Schumacher retired from the Australian Grand Prix for safety reasons after sustaining damage in a collision with Jaime Alguersuari on the first lap of the race in Melbourne.

The seven-time world champion continued at the back of the field, but floor damage sustained in the same incident eventually led him to pull into his garage on lap 19. And within three laps teammate Nico Rosberg went the same way.

Schumacher said he was disappointed both because his car was not as fast as he thought, and because the top cars were faster than he expected.

“I’m very disappointed, “said Schumacher.

“The start of the season certainly has not worked out as we had hoped, and we will tick this race off now and concentrate on the next one in Malaysia.

I am very sorry for our guys here and at the factory who have worked so hard and so well over the winter, but for some reason we could not bring their work into results this weekend. As for the race itself, I had quite a good start but was then hit in turn three which punctured the right rear tyre and resulted in damage to the floor.

As the damage was quite substantial, we decided to stop the car for safety reasons. It was an even bigger shame that Nico was then knocked out of the race as he could have scored some good points for the team. I still believe we have potential, as we saw during winter testing, and I am convinced we will fight back.”

Rosberg said:

“That was a disappointing first weekend of the season. It was a tough race until my retirement with the cars behind me pushing hard.

I saw Rubens in my mirror and he was quite far away so I was surprised that he hit me. I immediately thought that was it and I had to pull over to stop the car. It’s very sad for the team as they have worked so hard this weekend and throughout the winter.

However we focus on the positive and it will be interesting to see how we perform in Malaysia. Melbourne is a very unique track and we will only know where we really are after the next couple of races.”

Team principal Ross Brawn was disappointed with the weekend from start to finish and hopes that they can improve for Malaysia in two weeks.

He said: “This has obviously been a very frustrating weekend for our team. Michael’s race was spoilt almost immediately with a collision which eventually caused sufficient damage to force us to retire the car.”

The two Germans had hoped they would be in the battle for podium places after heading the final two days of pre-season testing.
But that form was not carried into the opening qualifying session of the season.