Michael Schumacher has admitted that he never expected his former team Mercedes to make the strides forward that they have this year, following the struggles of 2012.
The 7-times world champion, who returned to Formula One with Mercedes in 2010, spent three years with the team before retiring for a second time at the end of 2012, with Lewis Hamilton moving from McLaren to replace him.
In his time with the Brackley based team the German finished on the podium just once, at the European Grand Prix at Valencia in 2012, a highlight for Schumacher in what was otherwise a poor year for the team as they slumped to 5th in the constructors championship, despite a win in China for Nico Rosberg early in the season.
Talking to Eurosport the 44-year-old said: “Given where we finished last season, it is a surprise to see them where they are now.
“I couldn’t see that coming, but I’m happy for them.”
Schumacher, who partnered fellow countryman Nico Rosberg at Mercedes for three years, reflected positively on the 28-year-old, twice a winner in 2013, who compared favourably with his illustrious partner in their time together, stating: “People probably understand a little better how good Rosberg is.”
Despite Mercedes new found performance, with three wins in 2013 already, the German maestro, whose 91 wins and 7 world championships stand as all-time records in the sport, maintained that he was still sure he had made the correct decision to retire.
“You can’t forget that this sport is not just 20 races,” said Schumacher. “In those three years, so much energy is consumed that I would not have been able to continue at the level at which I want to measure myself.
“It would not have been enough for me to win a few races.
“The goal is to fight for the world championship — that was my target.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic