Mar.24 (GMM/ Michael Schumacher finally returned to the top three’s inner sanctum on Saturday.

“Who would have thought it last year?” the seven time world champion smiled in Malaysia after beating the formerly dominant Red Bulls with his Mercedes.

But the fact he was only beaten by the dominant McLarens in Sepang qualifying does not mean Mercedes is now ready to take on F1’s very best, boss Norbert Haug insisted.

Last weekend in Australia, the German team also performed well on Saturday before the tyres degraded heavily in the race — and in Malaysia, very high temperatures are an added factor.

“We are not equipped yet to take over from the likes of McLaren and Red Bull,” Haug is quoted by Sky Deutschland.

“To be the third force is definitely on the timetable.

“In Australia and also now in Malaysia we were the second force in the qualifying lineup, but the race is what counts,” added the German.