Michael Schumacher says Red Bull are in pole position

Michael Schumacher has written off his chances of starting the new Formula One season with a victory.

Schumacher's return to F1 last year was instantly forgettable and highly criticised after the 42-year-old failed to finish any race on the podium.



With Mercedes opting to start development on this year's car midway through last season, hopes were appreciably high they would hit the ground running.



But that has not been the case because, like McLaren, the team have been blighted by reliability issues and a lack of pace.



Unsurprising then that Schumacher is already resigned to fighting for position rather than wins when the season starts in Australia on March 27.



"We clearly know Red Bull are very strong and are the team you have to look at," said Schumacher, suggesting the world champions are in the driving seat at present.



"I guess we're not quite in a position (to win), but then I wasn't expecting to be in this position right now.



"The season is long and there is a big question mark as to who is coming up behind (Red Bull), and I hope we play a sufficient role in that."



Again like McLaren, Schumacher can at least sense the team are heading in the right direction.



"We have made a lot of progress with the car, so I'm quite happy," said the German following his penultimate test run this pre-season yesterday.



"Having concluded all our reliability work at the last test we're now concentrating on setting up the car, fine-tuning, understanding it down to the last detail.



"So I know where we are, and we are working very well. We are on the slope and on the progress curve like we want to be.



"Right now we are not concerned with our reliability. We have had some issues, but that is why you go testing, to get things sorted out, and that is what we have been doing."



Schumacher, who finished the day fifth quickest, now has one final day of testing to complete the fine-tuning he has referred to.



Ahead of him at the top of the timesheet was Sauber's Sergio Perez, albeit misleadingly so as his lap of one minute 21.761secs was set on a low-fuel qualifying run with super-soft tyres.



Just below him were the two leading teams, with Ferrari and Felipe Massa just having the edge over the Red Bull and Mark Webber.



In terms of brinkmanship, both drivers ended up tipping the other's team as the leading contender at present.



"Ferrari are strong. I think we're going okay, and the rest is hard to say," said Webber.



"Hopefully we are not too far away from Ferrari to start with and we go from there, but the form is still very hard (to read)."



In response, Massa said: "I tip Red Bull.



"First of all they are a team that won last year, and second they are very quick here.



"On Wednesday Sebastian (Vettel) did a very quick time as well, so I tip Red Bull, although I hope Mark Webber is right."



Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on TV
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Sport
Emmanuel Adebayor, Tim Sherwood and Hugo Rodellega
sportThe latest news and scores
News
Brand said he
people
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Sport
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives in the rain during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai
sport
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
The North Korean TV advert for Taedonggang beer, that became a YouTube hit
food + drinkAnd what did it take to set up a taste test back in Wiltshire?
Arts & Entertainment
filmLife for Leslie Mann's can be challenging sometimes
Voices
For music lovers: John Cusack with his vinyl collection in 'High Fidelity'
voices...but don't forget rest of the year
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit