The seven-time champion also spun out on a number of occasions as a result of the German outfit’s dodgy rear end, influenced by this year’s relatively minor but influential regulation changes mandating alterations to the floor design, diffuser fences and rear brake duct winglets.
Schumacher, who is the brother of decorated champion Michael and the uncle of Haas rookie Mick, suggested that Mercedes have their work cut out in order to catch up to Red Bull before the first Grand Prix of the season this weekend.
He claimed that the Silver Arrows need to focus on improving their rear end, but conceded that they may have been sandbagging during testing, pointing out that much of their running was done with high levels of fuel on board.
“I’m thrilled with how good the Red Bull is,” Schumacher told F1-Insider.com. “Mercedes seems to have problems with the car.
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“They have to get the problems under control as quickly as possible now, otherwise it will be close compared with Red Bull.”
Schumacher claimed that the vast majority of Mercedes’ problems lie with the airflow over their rear wing, with its uncharacteristic instability playing a role in throwing Hamilton off the track.
“It looks as if the rear wing, which is extremely important for a stable rear, is not always optimally hit by the airflow,” he explained.
Schumacher made 182 Grand Prix starts during his ten-year spell in F1, turning out for Jordan, Williams and Toyota with varying degrees of success.
He reflected on the struggles he faced with Williams at the start of the 2003 season, stressing that minor alterations can have a significant influence on a team’s fortunes.
“McLaren, the team that had to be beaten alongside Ferrari at the time, brought in new deflectors that Williams wanted to copy,” recalled Schumacher.
“Somehow it didn’t work as we wanted, the car was unstable and difficult to drive.
“After that, the parts on the car were no longer seen. That just goes to show that small parts can often have a big impact.”
Mercedes will be hoping to get back to their best in time for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, which gets underway on Friday with free practice at the Bahrain International Circuit.