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Brawn: No basis for Schumacher criticism

Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn believes Michael Schumacher's critics have jumped to conclusions far too early and often without foundation over the poor start to his comeback.

The seven-time champion yesterday dug deep into his experience to brush aside an inquisition into his lacklustre displays, especially in comparison to team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Schumacher held his hands up to his wretched display in China three weeks ago when he was 10th as his rivals passed him with ease in wet conditions in which he used to excel.

In an attempt to resolve the issues, Schumacher is using a chassis first deployed in testing, but sporting a radical new engine cover and improvements to the wings and undertray.

As first impressions go, the 41-year-old appeared far more at home than at any previous stage this season, recording the third fastest time in each of today's two practice sessions for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

Most significantly, for the first time on a Friday, Schumacher was ahead of Rosberg, by 0.3 seconds in P1 and half a second in P2.

Asked if the flak Schumacher has faced had been undeserved, Brawn said: "If you criticise the lap times he did, that was fair enough. But you have to understand the reasons for that before you criticise any further.

"I understand why people would criticise because he wasn't going very quickly. But there are lots of instances in a season where a car is not producing a lap time, and people don't jump to the conclusion it's the driver.

"So we need to see the season pan out a bit more before people form opinions of Michael's performance."

Brawn has suggested Schumacher's Shanghai shocker was more to do with the car than the man himself.

"There were areas of performance we couldn't understand and we couldn't put down to driver ability," he said.

"So we changed the chassis as a precaution. He (Schumacher) is relatively happy with the car, and I would say today things were back to normal, and although it's very early in the weekend, we've seen no areas for concern."