Mercedes is remaining totally loyal to Michael Schumacher as the seven times world champion plugs away in what is increasingly looking like an uphill struggle to re-integrate himself into the sport as a credible F1 front runner.

Even so, there is an element of unease which seems to be creeping into even the most supportive of remarks relating to the 41-year-old German’s lack of achievement so far this year.

Talk of taking ‘a long view’ and ‘building for 2011’ now peppers the official comments about Schumacher’s distinctly average season so far and this has inevitably fuelled speculation that Michael has already reached the conclusion that he has bitten off more than he can chew and is contemplating hanging up his helmet at the end of the year.

No matter how you slice it, he has been pretty comprehensively eclipsed by Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes line-up – and that was certainly not what he contemplated when he signed on the bottom line of his supposed three year contract.

The urging from Mercedes GP CEO Nick Fry that he keep ‘plugging away’ at his F1 comeback may not yet quite have the ring of panic about it, but it certainly reflects acute concern.

"I think Michael has just to plug away at it," Fry told Autosport. "It is not coming together clearly. We have fits and starts and last weekend had some good points - like the second part of qualifying - but then the final part of qualifying was a bit disappointing.

"He is still learning and we have still got confidence in him and he has confidence in himself. So I am quite optimistic."

I fear Fry’s optimism is now shared by a contracting clique in the pit lane.

Realistically, it is well nigh impossible to see how Schumacher is going to turn this around.