Mar.26 (GMM) Michael Schumacher is looking on the bright side, even though the best qualifying effort of his F1 comeback washed away on Sunday.
The seven time world champion qualified his Mercedes in the top three at Sepang, but the tyre-eating W03 could deliver him only a single point.
"On no other car does the rubber dissolve so quickly," read a report in Germany's Bild newspaper.
Schumacher, however, is upbeat.
"We are a second behind. Last year it was two (seconds)," he is quoted as saying.
"Clearly we have made progress but at the moment we can't be expected to fight for victory."
It would also be premature to draw up the 2012 pecking-order based on Malaysia, after the heavy rain left Ferrari and Sauber drivers as the unlikely occupants of the podium's top steps.
"Today was quite peculiar," Red Bull's Christian Horner told AFP news agency, "because if you look at it Sergio Perez was the quickest car on track.
"He was catching a Ferrari -- and pulling away from a McLaren," he exclaimed. "It's difficult to draw too much out of the first couple of races."
Former veteran engineer Joan Villadelprat agrees that Sunday at Sepang was not a representative result, particularly for the otherwise struggling winner Ferrari.
"Fernando Alonso won with a car that is really below the pace of McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and probably - as we saw at the end - Sauber as well," he wrote in El Pais newspaper.