Schumi hopes to make it a ‘German’ weekend

Michael Schumacher hopes to complete a German sporting double in the British Grand Prix on Sunday.

The seven-time world drivers’ champion lags 21 points behind Fernando Alonso in the drivers’ championship following the Spaniard’s fourth win of the year in the Monaco Grand Prix.

But, after breaking the lap record during testing sessions in Barcelona, Schumacher (37) is confident he can close that gap at Silverstone, where he has won three times before.

And he hopes that Germany’s football team will kick-start a successful sporting weekend for the country by beating Costa Rica in their opening game of the football World Cup on Friday.

Schumacher said: ”We have managed to sort out the car really well, we have prepared our tyres for Silverstone and generally worked towards doing well at the Grand Prix this weekend.

”We’ve improved several areas and I think everyone will be able to see that at Silverstone. We should be able to do well and fight for the win there. That is, of course, our goal.

”And, of course, I’m excited about the World Cup and I hope Germany can beat Costa Rica and go on to win the whole tournament.”

Schumacher was demoted from pole position to the back of the grid for the last race in Monaco after race stewards ruled he had cheated by stopping his car on the track in the dying seconds of qualifying.

His charge to fifth during the race could not halt the dominance of defending World Champion Alonso, who won to increase his championship points total to 64 — 21 ahead of Schumacher.

Alonso (24) has never won at Silverstone before, but appears the epitome of confidence ahead of the race at the track near Renault’s Formula One headquarters in Enstone.

Renault topped the times when nine teams tested at the track in May, giving Alonso good reason to be optimistic.

Alonso said: ”I am feeling very confident ahead of this race. We had a good test at Silverstone and we know that the characteristics of the circuit are good for the car, so there is no reason to think we won’t be fighting at the front.

Alonso believes the race will be contested by three teams, with Ferrari and McLaren — who are in a resurgent mood after their competitive showing in Monaco — both in a position to challenge Renault.

Alonso added: ”There is no point making big predictions, saying we will definitely win.

”Ferrari will be very strong, McLaren maybe as well if they can maintain their speed from Monaco. It will not be an easy weekend, but I certainly think we can be fighting for the win.”

Silverstone marks the home race for two drivers, with Jenson Button (26) and David Coulthard (35) both anticipating raucous support from the usually enthusiastic local fans.

Coulthard — a two-time winner of the British Grand Prix — took Red Bull Racing’s first Formula One podium finish in Monaco.

But the Scot is not expecting a repeat of those heroics at home, and thinks he will have to wait until next year before he can realistically hope to add to his tally of 13 career wins, the last of which came more than three years ago in Australia.

Coulthard said: ”I know what the plans are at Red Bull and Monaco was just the start.

”Our aim next year is to be regularly scoring podiums and fighting for race wins. Not yet, though — for now, there’s a couple of very fast Renaults in our way.” — AFP



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