Sunday, 16 January 2011

Schumi, Who Better?

After a season of criticism and set backs on the track, it's great to hear that Michael Schumacher is considered a major force for 2011.

Forget Vettel, Button, Hamilton and Webber, the man Fernando Alonso most fears this season is the 42 year old former Ferrari driver who retired from the sport in 2006 but sensationally decided to return three years later.

Alonso told Autosport: "If the ten cars of the five drivers, or the five cars of the five drivers are the same, in January, then I think Michael has the capacity, the experience, and the speed to be the toughest one.

"Hopefully, our car is superior to all of them, and then my toughest rival next year is Felipe. That will be a very welcome news for us, for that means that the Ferrari is the best car."

So all cars being equal, Schumacher is the major threat it seems.

It's easy to see why. Schumacher has now had a full year to understand the issues with the 2010 Mercedes and more importantly have direct input into the development -- from the very beginning -- of this year's contender. His sheer enthusiasm -- to say nothing of his raw focus -- when it comes to development is what helped propel him to the top with Ferrari all those years ago.

Much of the blame for his 2010 performance was his inability to make the most of the Bridgestones, particularly at the front. He found these narrower tyres lacking the bite he needed for his sharp and aggressive style into corners.

This issue is where Nico Rosberg was able to have the measure of Schumacher throughout much of the season. He could better adapt, particularly at low speeds, according to Ross Brawn.

Schumacher was right on the pace in the fast turns but because you are in the slow corners for longer, any deficiencies in speed heavily penalise you when it comes to laptime.

This year sees a new tyre manufacturer entering F1 with Pirelli. Will this be the tyre to help Schumacher deliver for 2011? The first test with the new cars is in just a couple of weeks in Spain.

Early indications are that the understeering issues with the 2010 Merc have been corrected in the 2011 model, and there's greater scope for set-up too.

One man taking an interest perhaps more than most will be a double World Champion in the red machine.

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