Critics have given Michael Schumacher a hard time all season so far over what can charitably be characterized as lackluster performance. Leading figures at the Mercedes-Benz GP team, however, have magnanimously attributed the problems to their car. But if his young teammate Nico Rosberg is currently second in the championship, having reached the podium twice so far this season (doubling his record from four seasons at Williams), then how can you blame the car?

The answer may be coming as soon as May 9, when the circus heads to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix. According to reports, Mercedes will give Schumacher a new chassis design to try out at the Catalunya circuit. If the new car suits Schumi better than the current one, they'll presumably have him run it for the remainder of the season. But given Rosberg's performance in the current chassis, the smart money would be on Nico continuing with the existing machinery, meaning that the team could – in a Formula One rarity – wind up running two different cars in a bid to defend the championships it won last year under the Brawn GP banner.

*UPDATE: Reports have since verified that Mercedes GP is set to introduce a longer-wheelbase version of the current car, and not a full redesign. By increasing the wheelbase, the team hopes to address certain weight distribution issues related to the latest tires provided by Bridgestone. At the same time, the new set-up aims to rectify the understeer that's been hindering Schumacher, while a new aerodynamics package will also be introduced on the revised car. Thanks for the tip, Patrick!

[Source: Autocar]