Michael Schumacher has this Sunday’s Spanish GP at Barcelona and the following week’s Monaco GP classic to definitively prove whether or not his return to F1 with Mercedes has been a success or not.

That was the verdict of triple world champion Niki Lauda yesterday who admits that he is slightly baffled by Schumacher’s lack of form, but who also suspects that there are quantifiable technical reasons for the 41-year old’s problems which may be addressed in part by him having a new chassis for the Spanish race.

“It may be as the team says that Michael’s original chassis was slightly damaged in an incident during one of the early season fly-away races and only now will that become really clear,” said Lauda who won his third race for McLaren in 1982 after making a comeback following a two year lay-off.

“Mercedes is also re-developing the car with a revised weight distribution which may help, because Michael’s style, whereby he likes the front end of the car to have a lot of grip so that he can pitch it into the corners, is not encouraged by the smaller front tyres which are being used this year.

"So I think that he may be more comfortable at Barcelona, and Monaco, of course, is somewhere where the talent that won him seven world championships should shine through.”

Lauda added that he has been very impressed with Nico Rosberg’s form in the other Mercedes. “Add to that the fact that there is such a crop of young  drivers with so much talent like Vettel, Hamilton, Button and Alonso and you can see just what a hard job Michael is facing."

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