Mercedes GP play down chances

BERLIN - With Michael Schumacher set to return to Formula One next weekend, Mercedes GP team boss Norbert Haug yesterday played down the expectation on his team ahead of the opening Grand Prix in Bahrain.

BERLIN - With Michael Schumacher set to return to Formula One next weekend, Mercedes GP team boss Norbert Haug yesterday played down the expectation on his team ahead of the opening Grand Prix in Bahrain.

Seven-time world champion Schumacher will break his three-year hiatus from the sport at the eagerly-anticipated Bahrain race on March 14 when he races for the German outfit.

Schumacher, 41, signed a three-year deal that will reunite him with team principal Ross Brawn, who masterminded all of his previous world drivers' championships titles at both Benetton and Ferrari.

But Mercedes team boss Haug does not regard his outfit as among the favourites with McLaren's Jenson Button set to begin the defence of his world crown in Bahrain alongside teammate Lewis Hamilton.

"I do not see us as the favourites for the first race, but we are on the right path to be able to challenge at the top," Haug told the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung yesterday.

"But we haven't won a single point yet and we want to make sure we can stand up for ourselves and give the answers on the track. In my opinion, we will not challenge for the podium in the first few races, but we will definitely show up afterwards." - Sapa-AFP

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