KUALA LUMPUR, April 5, 2011 (AFP) - Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher Tuesday urged his fans not to write off his Mercedes GP Petronas F1 team following a disastrous season-opening race in Australia."There is absolutely no doubt we want to do better than in the opening race, which was a disappointment for all of us.
We clearly see that as a challenge and it is much too early to write us off," he said in a statement.
Schumacher came to grief on the third turn and battled on before retiring after 19 laps and was followed shortly afterwards by fellow German Nico Rosberg with mechanical problems after being rammed by Rubens Barrichello.
Mercedes, who finished fourth in the constructors' title last season, came away from the opening race without any points.
Schumacher, however, said he was looking forward to competing at his favourite Sepang circuit in Malaysia this weekend.
"Everybody in the team remains positive and is in a fighting mood. So I expect a better weekend for us to come; a weekend we can build on," he said.
Since coming out of retirement, the 42-year-old Schumacher failed to reach the podium in the 2010 season and his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg finished 70 points ahead of him in the World Drivers' Championships. Meanwhile Rosberg said he hoped for a change of fortune in Sepang."We had a tough weekend in Australia but the team has worked hard and we are confident that the car will be running reliably in Malaysia," he said.
Mercedes GP team boss Ross Brawn, who vowed to come back stronger this season after his disappointing return to Formula One last year, said the team was unlucky to suffer a double retirement. "Our priority since Melbourne has been to regroup back at our factories..., to review the weekend in detail, and to establish the best way to achieve the
full potential of the car from Malaysia onwards," he said.