Looking very much forward to the start of the season - Schumi

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The world of Formula One is looking forward to the comeback of seven time World Champion Michael Schumacher on Sunday. Schumi, who retired in 2006, is ready for the new season and travels to Bahrain with confidence.

Michael, this weekend will be your first race after three years. You have prepared yourself very carefully but on the other hand there was only a limited number of testdays allowed. Do you have the feeling your preparation was enough? "I think none of us drivers has, but that is just normal: give us 40 days, we want 80. You always have the feeling you could do more, and a lot of the test days have been strongly handicapped by the weather. It is valuable time you are losing, which would be very important for the development of the car. But all in all I am very happy with our preparation, as our focus was on reliability and internal processes. We worked very efficiently. I am looking very much forward to the start of the season now."

Everybody seems to expect nothing but the title from you. Aren't those expectations too high maybe? "No. I said it quite clear from the beginning: we do not have to - and probably will not - be in the position to win right from the start. It is important to be close and then use the long season to be at the top at the end. It is not the start which is important; it is the finish."

But then less testing is even worse, as you are known to squeeze out all possibilities in testing to improve the car. "Correct, but then the data are so much better quality-wise and you can analyse them on a much better ground nowadays. This helps a lot, it speeds up the development. And then, haven't we seen for example in 2005 that it is not all about testing? We probably did 100.000 km, and what did we achieve? For sure not a lot, if you look back at this year... Compared to this you can work much more purposefully nowadays. I strongly believe we can fight at the top."

How would you think your prospects are for this season? "The car has not been completely at the level of other teams' cars at the end of the tests, true, but the amount of fuel was massively influencing this impression. It seems we were driving more fuel than others most of the time and therefore we look quite good I would say. But than it is hard to judge who played all his cards yet. Our car also has not been at the final configuration - something we had deliberately wanted. We wanted to use the 2 weeks development time between the last test and the race in Bahrain."

There is no refuelling allowed anymore during the races, how will you have to adjust to this? "Saving tyres will be an important factor. You will have less sets of tyres available than last year which makes it harder to do what you need to do for setting up the car perfectly. But driving is always about adapting to new circumstance, and this is one of my strong points. I would say the biggest difference are the tyres. You will have to develop a good feeling for them."

Everybody wants to beat you, are you ready for fighting for the title? "Absolutely, yes. This is what I am here for, and I am confident we can play a role in this fight. If we win it at the end will be a different question, as always in sports. But our entire team is extremely motivated, as am I. The guys have won both titles last year, and now, with Mercedes Power on board, they want to repeat this success. We all want to win. The season will be long and hard, no doubt about that, but I love this fight - it is because of this fight that I came back to Formula 1."

Source Michael Schumacher official site