Mercedes defend 'remarkable' Schumacher

Nick Fry, Mercedes GP's chief executive, was forced to back Michael Schumacher's underwhelming return to Formula One yesterday, choosing to highlight his "remarkable" impact on the team.

The seven-times champion has collected nine points from the opening three grands prix of the year to trail close friend Felipe Massa by 30 in the drivers' standings. Schumacher has so far been out-qualified and beaten in each of the three races by team-mate Nico Rosberg, who many expected would play second fiddle.

Schumacher also suffered the team's first retirement in Malaysia on Sunday after losing a wheel nut on the left rear of his car. Regardless of his travails, Fry said he was thoroughly impressed with Schumacher. "Michael is, for me, quite remarkable," he said. "The level of feedback he gives is something that I have never seen before, and is just not in the debriefs.

"When you have the headphones on you hear amazing things. In qualifying he was driving around almost giving a commentary. The FIA, who also listen, were also very impressed a driver can do that."

Schumacher's professionalism and attention to detail are reasons why Fry is convinced he will come good again. "Every race he is learning a little bit more and it is all coming together slowly but surely," Fry said. "He has taken the disappointment of what happened in Malaysia very well."

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