After such a dismal season for Ferrari Michael Schumacher could be forgiven for saying that he's happy to see the back of 2005, but the German is already looking ahead to next year. After a five year reign, Schumacher and Ferrari had to pass on their crowns to Fernando Alonso and Renault and although Michael went out with a bang in China, it was not exactly the bang he was hoping for.
Before the lights even went out at the start in Shanghai, Schumacher came to grief when his Ferrari and the Minardi of Christijan Albers crashed on the way to the grid. "The race began oddly," said Schumacher, which is perhaps a bit of an understatement.
"I was trying to warm up my tyres on the installation lap and the best way of doing this, especially when driving slowly to save fuel, is to zig-zag across the track. Perhaps Christijan wasn't aware of this and I too did not see him; suddenly I heard a crash."
The resulting damage meant that both drivers had to start from the pit lane in their respective spare cars. It was not to get any better for Schumacher; in the safety car period the tyres grew cold and under braking the Ferrari spun off to end Michael's race.
"Lapping with the safety car on the circuit was not very simple as my tyres were very worn down and cold and so had little grip," he explained. "When Felipe (Massa) ahead of me braked suddenly, I naturally did the same and this was enough to send me off the track."
Considering Ferrari's performance compared to previous years, it's actually quite surprising that the team and Schumacher managed to hang onto third place in the drivers' and constructors' standings. Naturally it's not a result they're happy about but Michael believes it will motivate him even more to return to form next year.
"This was not a great season and coming third in both championships does not truly reflect our performances," he said. "Now we have to concentrate wholly on next year and our aim is to get back to challenging for the title."
"If we consider how well last year went, and how much better the other teams did in 2005, the conclusion is that we have to get back among the best in 2006. We will be working hard during the winter and this is our objective."
"After the race many people asked us how long it would be before we got back to being on form after such a difficult season. Put very simply, I am more motivated after a year like this one. Such problems give me more motivation to challenge and get back to the top."
After the previous dominance of Ferrari it seems a little strange to see the team suddenly getting it wrong. One would have expected improvement through the year after the poor start but it just didn't happen. Despite that, Schumacher remains proud of the Maranello squad and believes they will bounce back.
"Everyone has always worked very hard and will not be discouraged," he stated. "This is why I am very optimistic for next year. You cannot go wrong with this team. We are facing a new challenge and I cannot wait for it. I would like to thank the team very much."