Don't expect miracles, warns Schumacher

World champion Michael Schumacher warned his Ferrari team’s loyal Tifosi fans in Monza on Saturday not to expect a miracle podium performance from him in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

Schumacher looked a shadow of his seven-time title-winning self when he settled for seventh in qualifying on Saturday after an off in morning practice that followed a heavy crash on Friday.

And the German, who will lose his title this weekend if he cannot out-score championship leader Fernando Alonso, said: “It would be wonderful to end up on the podium in front of all our fans, but I feel that is a bit too optimistic.

“We have worked well and, if you leave out one team, who are just too dominant, we are in the frame, so tomorrow our realistic target is to fight for points.”

German Schumacher finished second behind Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello in a Ferrari one-two last year, but with Barrichello eighth on the grid, a repeat looks extremely unlikely.

Schumacher admitted his performance had improved since a hugely disappointing outing at the last race in Turkey and said he was “happy” with his lap time because he had to run on a slippery track early in the session.

Team principal Jean Todt admitted Ferrari are struggling with a lack of grip and added: “Today’s result is a pretty faithful assessment of the situation and we are well aware we continue to suffer from poor grip.

“We would have preferred to be higher up the grid, particularly for the benefit of all the Ferrari employees who, today and tomorrow, have their own grandstand here, and for all our fans.

“We can assure them we will, as always, give it our best shot. The key factors will be strategy, reliability and the behaviour of the tyres throughout the course of the race.”

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn is confident Bridgestone, which has partnered the team throughout their run of title wins, will provide a tyre to perform well in the race.

He was happy with the improvements the team have made during the weekend and said the chances of success depend more than ever on the skill of Schumacher and Barrichello.

Brawn said: “This morning, the tyres seemed to perform consistently and that gives us reason for optimism, so we can be hopeful of having a good race. But it will be important to overtake the cars directly ahead of us on the grid.”—Sapa-AFP