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Schu on tire troubles: 'It's like driving on raw eggs'

From Amanda Davies, CNN
May 7, 2012 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
  • Michael Schumacher criticizes Pirelli's tires, complaining they degrade too quickly
  • Seven-time world champ says tires are stopping drivers from pushing themselves
  • Sole supplier Pirelli says tires have produced an exciting, unpredictable season
  • Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg sees positives, saying "it's mixed everything up"

(CNN) -- Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher has continued to pillory Pirelli's tires, complaining that they are like driving on "raw eggs."

The Mercedes driver blamed the quicker degradation of the Italian manufacturer's products for the scenario which has seen four race winners in as many starts this season, and much closer competition between the drivers.

"I just think that they're playing a much too big effect because they are so peaky and so special that they don't put our cars or ourselves to the limit," he told CNN ahead of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

"We drive like on raw eggs and I don't want to stress the tires at all. Otherwise you just overdo it and you go nowhere."

The 43-year-old German has been a vocal critic of Pirelli, calling on the company to rethink its approach after several drivers struggled with tire degradation during last month's Bahrain Grand Prix.

Michael Schumacher in the modern Silver Arrow while Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg takes the wheel of the 1955 model. Michael Schumacher in the modern Silver Arrow while Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg takes the wheel of the 1955 model.
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He was backed by McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh, whose drivers also struggled with the tires. Jenson Button suffered a puncture with three laps remaining, retiring on the penultimate lap, while Lewis Hamilton finished down in eighth and lost his championship lead to race winner Sebastian Vettel.

Pirelli replaced Bridgestone as F1's sole tire supplier in 2011, winning a three-year contract. Bridgestone had been the sole provider from 2007-2010, after Michelin pulled out.

However, Pirelli has argued it should be congratulated for such an open, unpredictable season. The manufacturer claimed it was simply responding to calls for more eventful racing, with director Paul Hembery saying: "We are pushing the limits.

"It's a very, very aggressive approach that we took. It's what we were asked to do. We were asked to bring challenges to the teams and this is what we've done."

Schumacher's teammate Nico Rosberg, however, had a very different view on the tires.

The 26-year-old German, who won the Chinese Grand Prix last month for his first victory in 111 attempts, took a positive spin on the unpredictability.

"I find it a big challenge for us drivers and an interesting challenge. It's different but very interesting," he told CNN.

"This tire management, getting the most out of it, understanding when to push, when to take it easy. It's so on a knife's edge with the tires that it's good and it's great for racing. It's great, it's mixed everything up, lots of overtaking, lots of things happening, fantastic for everybody."

While Rosberg is sixth in the drivers' rankings, Schumacher is languishing in 18th as he seeks his first podium placing since coming out of retirement in 2010.

However, the former Ferrari star is proud to see younger compatriots such as Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg of Force India and Marussia's Timo Glock with him on the 24-strong grid this season, and he reserved special praise for Red Bull's double world champion Vettel.

"Being good friends, particularly with Sebastian, sort of makes it even more special because he grew up on my go-kart track," Schumacher said.

"We know each other from childhood. His childhood mainly -- I was a little bit grown up by that stage. And seeing him do well makes me proud."

The Mercedes cars have been a lot more competitive this season, and Schumacher hopes they can transform their improved pace with more consistent race results.

"We have got one win under our belt. Got a bit unlucky in that race -- could have been a one-two without a doubt -- but it proves that we made a huge step because we have to consider where we come from," he said.

"Last year wasn't really what we were looking for. Starting the Silver Arrow new generation we had media success and finally we managed a victory, and I'm pretty sure we can have other good races this year being on the podium, and maybe even being on top of the podium."

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