Schumacher looks to continue his good run
Michael Schumacher aims to continue his assault on Fernando Alonso at the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday, in which he could move within one point of his rival if all goes well.
Schumacher is coming off three straight victories in his Ferrari, with Alonso and his Renault team seemingly not able to match their form and speed of the earlier part of the season.
In these three races Schumacher has reduced the deficit from 25 to 11 points. If he wins again on the Hungaroring track and Alonso doesn’t finish in the points the gap will be just one point with five races left afterwards.
Schumacher badly wants to keep up the momentum in his quest for an historic eighth world title in what could be his last season, well aware that the balance of power his shifted several times over the season.
“We have to expect that Renault will come back at some stage, so we must keep on winning a race, more races. It’s very important that we use this opportunity,” said Schumacher.
“The performance we have shown in the last three races against our competitor, it gives us great confidence that at least for some more races we can probably keep that and hopefully reduce the gap in the championship pretty significantly [and] quickly,” he said.
Schumacher has a massive psychological edge as well because his latest victory in front of a German home crowd at Hockenheim enables him to win the title on his own again without the help of others.
But with teammate Felipe Massa also fast, another one-two Ferrari finish like in Hungary and the United States is not out of the question.
Alonso and Renault, for their part, are defiant.
“I have achieved an advantage of 11 points in 12 races.
Now there are just six races left and I believe that is more reason for concern for Ferrari than for Renault,” he said.
Renault chief engineer Pat Symonds said: “We will be doing everything in our power to turn the tables on Sunday in Budapest.
“Hearing people write us off this year has only strengthened our resolve.”
The key to success could be the tyres once again, with Schumacher’s Bridgestones superior to Alonso’s Michelins, a fact the Spaniard acknowledges after managing no better than fifth in Germany.
“We definitely weren’t the fastest Michelin team. We must change this quickly to stop Ferrari,” he said.
The world-title fight between Schumacher and Alonso will get the most attention on the weekend, which kicks off with two practice rounds on Friday, a final practice and qualifying on Saturday and the 70-lap race on the 4,381km Hungaroring on Sunday.
But McLaren-Mercedes will also be hoping for a good result after Kimi Raikkonen got the pole in Hockenheim and finished a strong third there.
Hungary also sees the historic debut of BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica, the first Polish driver to race in a grand prix, replacing Jacques Villeneuve who is not fully fit after a Hockenheim crash.
“I’m very proud that BMW-Sauber have this confidence in me, which I don’t want to disappoint,” said Kubica, who is normally the team’s test driver.—Sapa-dpa