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'Schumacher will be stronger next year'

December 10, 2003 17:23 IST

Formula One champion Michael Schumacher will be stronger and more motivated than ever next year after taking a record sixth title in 2003, says Ferrari boss Jean Todt.

"The Michael Schumacher we see next year will be the best Michael Schumacher ever," the sporting director told British reporters at Ferrari's Maranello headquarters.

"He's as motivated as he has ever been and if he went off the track at times this season, it didn't embarrass him too much as he won the title," Wednesday's Independent newspaper quoted him as saying.

"If he feels he is not competitive enough, that is when he will stop. But he is very intelligent. He loves driving and being with the team and winning races."

The German won six races this year and became the first driver to take six championships, one more than the late Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said Schumacher was enjoying his racing as much as ever.

"Perhaps he's even enjoying it more," he said. "I think he's definitely matured but is not yet past his peak."

Brawn also complimented McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, the young Finn who challenged Schumacher for the championship right to the last race of the season.

"He's the best of the new guys," he said. "He doesn't make mistakes under pressure and he did some great things towards the end of the season with what was a pretty old car."

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