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Schumacher prepared for 'hero or zero' season
Michael Schumacher says the margin between success and failure will be narrower this year as he prepares for a close battle with Mercedes' rivals.
Last year Mercedes finished a solid fourth in the constructors' championship, but its performance was a long way off the top three cars and comfortably clear of the midfield. This year Schumacher is expecting a closer fight behind Red Bull, which he believes is the favourite for victory at the opening round.
"Victory for me is unlikely, I see Red Bull in front," he told his official website. "Behind them it will be tight, and you can be either hero or zero very quickly. It will come down a lot to the ability of how well you will be setting up your car to the respective track."
However, he is confident Mercedes has had its most positive pre-season testing programme since he joined the team in 2010.
"The car is reliable which is already good," he said. "The first impression was already quite positive. We were driving out of the box with the car and everything went well, so there is potential. We are heading into the season much better prepared than in the past two years, and we can fully concentrate onto the development of our car."
He added: "The speed is promising. I hope we can show that in Melbourne. We were able to drive a lot during the tests and therefore learn a lot too, and we certainly have made a step forward. Just that I would want to wait until after the first races to judge how big this step is and how much it is worth compared to our competitors."
Asked why he is remaining cautious, Schumacher said: "Because we have experienced last year that you can be very wrong relying on the data coming out of the winter tests. And because we can see that the field will be very narrow this year. I do not have a clear picture yet. What we can say though is that the gap between the several teams will not be as big as it has been last year."