Seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher has admitted that the competition at the front end of the grid is much tougher nowadays than it was when he was the biggest draw in the sport.
The legendary racer retired for the second time at the end of the 2012 season after coming out of retirement to join Mercedes in a three-year-deal in 2010. His second stint in F1 was much less successful than the first though, managing only one podium - in Valencia last year - in his time with the German team.
While his lack of success might be attributed to the fact that he was no longer driving a title-winning car, the former champion insisted that increased competition at the front of the grid was a bigger factor.
"The field is closer together," he told Auto Motor und Sport.
"In my early days, there was always the chance to be quicker than another driver not just by a couple of tenths, but a full second. Why? Because the cars aerodynamically were not so balanced and were therefore very sharp to drive. As a driver, you then had many more possibilities yourself.
"Today, the cars are aerodynamically stable and well balanced; the window in which you work is not as big."
However, the 44-year-old added that the closer competition didn't necessarily mean that the current drivers are better than those in the past.
"Are the drivers of today so much better?" he said.
"It has always only been the best drivers who are in Formula One. Today there are more best drivers? Of course I set new standards with the way I work, but my former colleagues were on the way they were accustomed to working perfectly, and some had to replicate the new standard. The difference today is that maybe the new generation has grown up with this same scale."
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