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Schumacher vows to fight as pressure mounts
Alan Baldwin |
August 25, 2003 18:04 IST
Michael Schumacher loves a fight and is ready to slug it out all the way to a record sixth Formula One title.
But, after enjoying years of good fortune and the best car on the track, he says he now needs a change of luck and improvements from Ferrari to help him get there.
Times have changed and the German suffered the indignity of being lapped in Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix as Williams' Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya slashed his overall lead to one point with three races remaining.
To turn the heat right up, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen is just two points adrift of Schumacher after finishing runner-up to Renault's youngest ever race winner Fernando Alonso at the Hungaroring.
"Perhaps it wasn't our day and we were unlucky but you should know me after all these years: I never avoid fighting, I love to fight," said Schumacher, whose next race is Ferrari's home Italian Grand Prix on September 14.
"Right now it is difficult but it is not over.
"I can only say I still believe in our possibilities plus I am still leading the championship."
"We have to improve everything, the whole package, in all areas," he added.
"For sure we have a big programme and there is a lot to test but everybody inside Ferrari is motivated to fight for the championship and that is what makes me confident."
Schumacher dominated last season, with 11 wins in 17 races, when it seemed that he had a magic shield to deflect all bad luck away from him.
This year the force field is not working.
He set the tone with fourth place in the Australian season-opener and did not get to stand on the podium until he won the first race in Europe at Imola in April on the weekend his mother died.
It took him eight races to snatch the lead from Raikkonen in Canada in June and he has not won since.
Instead, there has been a spiral of decline with Schumacher finishing fourth in Britain, seventh in Germany after a late puncture robbed him of second and eighth in Hungary.
Meanwhile, Williams have been on the march, seizing the lead in the constructors' championship from Ferrari on Sunday.
"A lot of things went wrong. More or less everything that could have gone wrong did," said Schumacher, who started Sunday's race on the fourth row in his worst qualifying performance for five years.
While the champion almost ran out of fuel before his second stop, Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello crashed with a sudden suspension failure.
"After so many problems we have had in the last few weeks I can only hope our luck will return," said the German.
Monza is followed by Indianapolis and then the season's finale at Suzuka in Japan and the title looks set to go down to the wire after Schumacher settled it six races early last year.
"There are three races to go, we must get the most out of our package and I believe we can pick up a lot," said Schumacher.
"Don't forget we won in Canada which is a Monza-type circuit and our car is very good for high speed circuits so I am not pessimistic about it. I believe the team can make a good step forward and fight back."