Michael Schumacher has written off his chances of a fourth German Grand Prix victory as the reigning world champion remains baffled by Ferrari’s continued failure this year.
Schumacher is adamant his legion of fans will have nothing to cheer at Hockenheim this weekend, the 36-year-old claiming to feel “pessimistic” about his chances.
The seven-times Formula One king looks certain to be handing over his crown to either Renault’s Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren.
Schumacher trails championship-leading Spaniard Alonso by 34 points, and although only eight behind Raikkonen, the gulf in class between the McLaren and Ferrari at present is marked.
The Italian giants have rarely been in contention this season, and with no sign of the team getting to the bottom of their ongoing problems, Schumacher feels he will be nothing more than an also-ran on his home track.
“I don’t feel like promising big things to my fans,” said a downhearted Schumacher, whose desire to root out the ills of ailing Ferrari saw him undertake a test session at Mugello on Wednesday, a rare decision so close to a race.
“I’m not thinking about victory at all. I’ll do my best to get on the podium at least, although I must admit I feel fairly pessimistic.”
Schumacher’s only win this year came at the much-maligned United States Grand Prix, now notoriously remembered for the withdrawal of the seven teams supplied with tyres by Michelin, handing the German victory on a plate.
At least Schumacher looked strong before that as he qualified on pole, suggesting he and Ferrari were back on track, only for confidence to since rapidly evaporate.
“After Indianapolis I felt very optimistic, but once we were back in Europe, whatever good there was suddenly disappeared,” added Schumacher.
“Therefore, after Magny-Cours and Silverstone, it would be an illusion to think that things could change here.
“I know it’s hard to understand. Myself and everyone at Ferrari struggle to understand why we are so slow. If we managed to understand it, the problem would be solved.
“But in F1 there’s never just one reason. It’s a combination of the various elements of the package that don’t work and we are constantly doing nothing but wondering why, without being able to find an answer.
“In the last few races it has been clear to see we aren’t fast enough. We are facing a situation, but we don’t know if we’ll change it.
“That’s no reason to have doubts over yourself, so we’ll always carry on working. In our team there’s always hope after each test.
“But no matter how big my hope is, I absolutely will not make a prediction.”
There have been suggestions Schumacher will quit at the end of this season if Ferrari show no signs of improvement, despite the fact he has another year remaining on his contract after the current campaign.
Schumacher, though, is not about to walk away, adding: “I can’t really imagine my life without F1.
“In sport it’s normal to have difficult spells. Sometimes it happens that someone works better than you and gets better results.”