It might not be possible for Mercedes to leap straight to the front of the grid in 2011, Michael Schumacher has warned.

It might not be possible for Mercedes to leap straight to the front of the grid in 2011, Michael Schumacher has warned.

Amid a difficult 2010 season for the Brackley based team, the decision was taken early to switch the focus to the 2011 car.

German Schumacher told Kleine Zeitung newspaper: "We began with our new car earlier than some other teams, which is an advantage.

"But we shouldn't expect any miracles," added the seven time world champion. "We cannot take two steps at once.

"We are after all a smaller team than the big ones, so we have slightly less capacity," said Schumacher.

He has fended off speculation he might not return to F1 in 2011, and denied that he is desperate to cap off his disappointing comeback season with a podium this weekend.

If he does not finish in the top three in Abu Dhabi, 2010 will be the only full season in his entire F1 career in which he did not appear on the podium.

"I do not need a podium, but of course I would prefer to have one," smiled Schumacher.

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