Michael Schumacher, the seven-time Formula One world champion, expressed his belief that he can get back to fighting for race wins and podiums in the 2011 season with Mercedes, after a horrendous comeback season last year.

Things look bright for Schumacher after he topped the times in final pre-season testing at Barcelona last week. Although Mercedes' new car was short of pace in the early tests, an important upgrade lifted Schumacher as he clocked the fastest time of the testing at Circuit de Catalunya.

Last season wasn't quite the fairy tale return from a three year sabbatical for the seven-time World Champion as he lacked pace and was constantly out-performed by teammate Nico Rosberg. However, the veteran believes he will be competing for the podium this season, with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on 27 March.

Schumacher said, I am confident we can compete for podium finishes and I am hopeful we can fight for victories at some of the races.

The team has been working very hard over the winter to shape our car in all of the areas that had been identified by us as needing improvement. The data I have seen over the winter had been quite encouraging but then we all know the realities of data and the racetrack can be quite different.

As a driver you obviously hope for a good step forward and I think this is what we have achieved. We will only see the truth once the season gets under way, so I can hardly wait to go to Melbourne to finally see what the real picture is.

Schumacher went on to add that he needed to get accustomed to working with Mercedes as it is a British-based team.

This year feels very different indeed, he said. Last year, everything was new again - the testing situation, the car, the team, the structures. It was very exciting but it was still something you had to find your way through.

Now, one year later, I know much better which areas to work in. I am much more familiar with the team and we have a great group of very skilled and dedicated people. I enjoy what I do, I enjoy working with Mercedes, and I have never regretted my decision to return.