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Mercedes’ Norbert Haug has responded to word in the German press that Michael Schumacher has been told to up his game or leave the team ahead of the 2011 season, claiming that he believes the 7-time World Champion is ‘as good as he ever was and probably even better’.
With Germany’s Bild reporting that Schumacher has been told to either immediately perform better or risk losing his seat alongside Nico Rosberg, Mercedes’ Vice President for Motorsport clarified the situation.
“Well, that’s an interpretation of what was said, but of course there was no ultimatum,” Haug said in Friday’s post-practice press conference at Suzuka. “I think Michael again showed his class and his full commitment today.
“We are currently a little bit handicapped with our car but I have no complaints and no regrets that we’re going to achieve our target. We need to work hard. As I said before in a similar conference, we are sticking together and Michael is, for me, as good as he ever was and probably even better.
“He’s relaxed, concentrated. He doesn’t need anybody to defend him, certainly not me; we are very happy with the job he’s doing and we need to give both Nico and him a better car.”
However, Haug does admit that Rosberg – who has consistently out-paced his vastly more experienced team-mate this season – has significantly raised his own profile.
“I think it’s absolutely obvious that Nico has so far extracted all that was possible from the car,” Norbert continued. “Only on a very few occasions was that not the case. I think he learned a lot with Williams and, if you were to name one of the top guys that is currently young and experienced in Formula 1, then you would certainly mention Nico - so Nico is a very good benchmark for probably everybody in the field.”
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