Ferrari principal backs Schumacher to fight for the title in his comeback season
28 January 2010

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali believes Michael Schumacher will fight for the title this season, despite the German's three-year break from competition.

Domenicali thinks Schumacher’s age and fitness will not be an issue and pointed to the fact Ferrari was prepared to let the seven-time world champion race for the team last season.

“We can't forget we wanted him to be Felipe Massa's replacement last season,” Domenicali told Spanish radio. “He will be one of our rivals, just like Mercedes, and Rosberg, McLaren, with two great drivers, and Red Bull. The title will be fought between ourselves and another three teams.

"Michael is ready to fight for the title. He is a great champion and a great driver, and if he has chosen to come back it's because he knows he will have a competitive car, and he too will be, surely.”

Schumacher will line up alongside Nico Rosberg at Mercedes this year and team principal Ross Brawn has played down concerns that Rosberg will be a peripheral figure at the team.

“We see Nico as a great talent, but it needs finishing and maturing,” Brawn told the official Formula One website. “He has not won a race yet, although he came very close, and I think it is a wonderful partnership between him and Michael. They work well together and I see Michael helping Nico develop his career.

"Michael has come out of retirement but we have to accept that there will come a day when he has to stop forever and then we will have Nico.

"They must both try the hardest to beat each other but if it is done with the right spirit, with the right approach, then both will gain enormously. I view it as a very exciting partnership and I am glad Nico is part of it."

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28 January 2010

It seems that Ferrari is not entirely confident of its ability to offer Alonso a leading package this year, but if they and Red Bull have built a car that is competitive and reliable, then one would have to say that Vettel and Alonso are going to be the two great threats to Schumacher.

The Hamilton-Button battle will be fascinating in itself, and hopefully maturity will have polished the rough edges off of Lewis's temperament to make him consistent where he used to be a bit rash.

For most of last season, the racing was very one-sided in favour of Button, but this Championship could potentially be the most tightly and broadly contested ever.

Throughout 2010, I hope Alonso and Vettel have the cars to challenge Schumacher, all the better to demonstrate his status if he takes his eighth World Championship this year.

Up until now I'd overlooked Massa's part in the equation - ideally he'll raise an internal battle at Ferrari much like the one that is inevitable at McLaren.

I doubt that Webber can stage the same challenge against Vettel, so, once again, Michael has applied his strategic mastery to place himself in a beautiful position.

28 January 2010

[quote VirginPower]I doubt that Webber can stage the same challenge against Vettel[/quote]

Funny, I would have have thought that he would be stronger this year, since he is not carrying a broken leg and broken shoulder like he was last year. Webber is not the sort of driver to get upset about all the hype surrounding his young team-mate, and will most likely respond by raising himself to new levels. And if that makes Vettel have to dig deeper to beat Webber, then all the better for the rest of us.

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