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Schumacher has a point to prove in Britain
Alan Baldwin |
July 16, 2003 21:12 IST
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher has plenty to prove in Sunday's British Grand Prix as his younger brother Ralf continues to grab the headlines this season.
Chasing a record sixth Formula One crown, the world champion has admitted that Ralf has impressed most in this campaign.
Ralf has won the last two races for Williams and is the only driver to have finished every race in the points.
After a lukewarm start, he trails Michael by 11 points in the drivers' championship, with McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen sandwiched between them, but has all the momentum going into Sunday's race.
"This year's race is going to be even more special following our recent victories," Ralf said. "The car is quick on a variety of circuit layouts so we should be able to produce a good result."
Team mate Juan Pablo Montoya, also still in the title race, added: "It is not unusual to get a lot of wet running during the British GP weekend, which will shake things up a little but we are definitely aiming for more podium positions."
Ralf and Colombian Montoya are gunning for the team's first home win since Canadian Jacques Villeneuve triumphed in 1997.
However, Michael Schumacher, who broke a leg at Silverstone in a 1999 crash that ended his title hopes that year, fancies his chances of celebrating what would be his 50th win for Ferrari.
"I am sure that we will be very competitive," he said. "We will have a few new parts on the car and that means we can be optimistic.
"You need a well balanced car on this track, even more so than at the Nuerburgring. Every aspect of the set-up has to be perfect and getting it right is a real challenge."
While the focus will be on the Schumacher brothers, Michael's team mate Rubens Barrichello will have a key role at Silverstone.
Ever world champion Schumacher's faithful sidekick, the Brazilian must help take points from the German's title rivals and bolster Ferrari in a knife-edge constructors' championship.
The Ferrari drivers finished one-two at the central English circuit last year but they are yet to show such dominance this season.
Instead a first lap error and seventh place finish by Barrichello at the last race in France, after a fifth in Canada and eighth in Monaco, left the champions just three points clear of Ralf's Williams.
Barrichello knows he must do better and expects to do so.
"Of all the tracks we race on, it is the one I know best since my Formula Lotus and Formula Three days," said the driver who still holds the Silverstone race lap record and started on pole there in 2000.
"I know what to do there and I find it an exciting and challenging track. It is a chance for me to do well.
"I have seen a lot of stories in the press along the lines of 'Rubens is not doing well this year' and I disagree with that. I always try my best, I am not a sleeper.
"This year, the situation is tougher and we have occasionally started a bit further back on the track, so for me, Silverstone represents the chance to do it just right."
McLaren's David Coulthard won his home race in 1999 and 2000 but it is second-placed Raikkonen who leads the team's challenge.
The Finn failed to finish last year but McLaren have a tremendous recent record at the circuit and he can be counted on to fight all the way on Sunday despite the team's continued reliance on their old car.
Watch out also for Renault, who expect to do well at a circuit similar to Spain where Fernando Alonso pushed Schumacher all the way to the finish.