McLaren wary of Schumacher challenge

 

Sepang

Even Michael Schumacher's belief that his Mercedes will be as strong in the race here as it was in qualifying in Australia last week has not put Jenson Button off his stride in the lead-up to this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

"Mercedes are quick, and we thought they were going to be a much stronger threat in Australia," Button's team chief Martin Whitmarsh said. "If you had said to me before the start, I'd have said that Mercedes were the biggest threat. They were very quick in a straight line, and I thought they were going to be a handful for us. As it turned out, I think they underperformed. But they can do a better job than they did in Australia."

Schumacher said yesterday he does not believe he will suffer the loss of race pace that marred the team's opening-race performance. And there is a general belief that Mercedes' controversial aerodynamic DRS/F-duct system will give them an advantage along Sepang's very long straights.

"We have an innovation that gives us some performance but I don't think it's a huge performance," the German said. "We'll find out. The basic positive is that we definitely have a much improved car. We still need to learn it and understand it in all circumstances to take benefit and performance from it.

"We can improve quite a bit with race pace. I don't think we would have been able to achieve a podium in Melbourne if we went all the way through – maybe fifth was the best we could have had. But we have good ideas on what to improve. Whether it means we will be on the podium is another story as there are at least four cars which are very strong, with the two McLarens and two Red Bulls."

Button has the air of a man who believes his car will be even better suited to the fast sweeps of the Malaysian track. "We've got a car that works well in the high-speed stuff," he said. "The challenge this weekend will be to find the right balance. At this stage, you're still learning about the car and how to get the best from it. But the engineers understand how our car is strong.

"The first race was good but when the circuit cooled it was tricky keeping the tyre temperature. That shouldn't be a problem here with the heat and humidity but Pirelli's hard tyre works in a low temperature range and there will be a lot of sliding around. The weather is bound to play a part and I'd rather it stays dry because when it rains here it's all or nothing. Then you're floating, which is a horrible feeling. But I love this race. It's a real challenge."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...