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Schumacher confident he will be chasing podiums
Michael Schumacher is eager to get the new season underway and is targeting podiums and the odd race victory at the start of his 2011 campaign.
The Mercedes driver signed off from pre-season testing with the fastest time of the week at Barcelona. At early tests the W02 had several reliability problems and was off the pace of its rivals, but Schumacher believes a package of upgrades brought to the final test has turned it into a top-three car.
"My feeling is a good one," he told Mercedes' official website. "The team has been working very hard over the winter to shape our car in all of the areas which had been identified by us as needing improvement. The data I have seen over the winter had been quite encouraging, but then we all know that the realities of data and the race track can be quite different.
"As a driver, you obviously hope for a good step forward and I think this is what we have achieved. I am confident that we can compete for podium finishes, and I am hopeful we can fight for victories at some of the races. Saying that, we will only see the truth once the season gets underway, so I can hardly wait to go to Melbourne to finally see what the real picture is."
Schumacher is also confident that he is in better shape this year, after a season getting back up to speed in F1.
"This year feels very different indeed," he added. "Last year everything was new again; the testing situation, the car, the team, the structures. It was very exciting but it was still something you had to find your way through. Now, one year later, I know much better which areas to work in. I am much more familiar with the team and we have a great group of very skilled and dedicated people. I enjoy what I do, I enjoy working with Mercedes, and I have never regretted my decision to return… if that is what you wanted to ask next!"