Barcelona - Michael Schumacher believes he has a realistic chance of a podium finish at this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.
The seven-time drivers' world champion has not managed a podium for Mercedes since his return to formula one in 2010 - his best result was in Canada in 2011 where he finished fourth.
In spite of this, the 43-year-old German has been encouraged with his car's performance this season and is hoping to reproduce the form which saw his Mercedes team-mate and compatriot Nico Rosberg secure victory at the Chinese Grand Prix - Mercedes' first win as a team since 1955.
Schumacher admitted his team had not expected to be as competitive as they have been, but is relishing the opportunity.
"Whether I have been winning or not winning any podium or good result is welcome at any time, that is the same," said Schumacher.
"We started this project with a different perspective but you have to look at the reality and the reality is that we have a car that can be on the podium and can win races so the sooner the better."
Schumacher added that testing in Mugello last week has given his team an opportunity to understand how to get the most out of his car in relation to the new-for-2012 Pirelli tyres.
"In the first few races we understood our strengths and our weaknesses but to understand how to fix our weaknesses ... that is what the Mugello test was important for.
"So we were able to work the car under no race conditions and just to work specific programmes and to learn about this car and it was very helpful."
Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn will not be at the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend after suffering a bout of illness, but is expected to return for the Monaco race in two weeks time - Bob Bell will act as team principal this weekend.
"We fully expect Ross to be back in Monaco," said Mercedes GP CEO Nick Fry.