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Joy of six will not sate Schumacher's desire
October 13, 2003 18:02 IST
Six titles will not satisfy Michael Schumacher and his history-making Ferrari 'Dream Team'.
They want to keep on winning after claiming the greatest Formula One record of them all in the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.
It was fitting that the German's extraordinary sixth crown, adding the 1950s five of Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio to a pile of broken records, came against the backdrop of Suzuka's amusement park.
Brazilian Rubens Barrichello's win handed Ferrari their third victory in a row, eighth in 16 races, and secured the constructors' title for an unprecedented fifth year in succession.
"This will stop one day and I think for all of us it is going to be very painful and we don't want to face that pain any earlier than we have to," said Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn. "We still enjoy winning races.
"I said after Indianapolis that Michael was choked and he's won 70 races. There's still a passion there for all of us and while the passion's there, we'll do it.
"One day we'll stop," he continued. "It's not going to be next year. I don't know when it will be but I guess we'll all know when it comes, but I don't think it will be in the next few years.
"Retirement is doing what you enjoy doing and we all enjoy doing this."
From being called a team in crisis in August, with some commentators asking whether 34-year-old Schumacher was ripe for retirement, the team came up with the perfect reply.
Ferrari's world regained its equilibrium even as their happy heroes staggered off, the drinks flowing freely and Schumacher partying into the early hours in the circuit hotel's heaving karaoke cabins.
"Here we are. We're back. We never give up, we're always there, we always fight," said Schumacher.
Changes to rules and regulations, introduced this year to 'spice up' the sport after a year of stifling Ferrari domination, helped to take the title down to the wire but in the end the song remained the same.
Two titles won in one day, Schumacher's fourth in a row, can only spell business as usual for the glamour team.
And, despite the determination of McLaren, Williams and Renault, Ferrari are still hungry.
Brawn was at Benetton when Schumacher won his first title and has accompanied him throughout his Ferrari career.
So too has sporting director Jean Todt, who has built a tight band of men around him including design ace Rory Byrne and engine expert Paolo Martinelli.
All are signed up to the end of 2006, when Schumacher's contract expires.
"We are all focused," said Todt. "At Ferrari, we love being together and it's probably the reason that none of us wants to go because we feel that it would be in a way betraying part of the group."
Brawn said the far stiffer competition, with eight different winners from five teams compared to Ferrari winning 15 of 17 races in 2002, made success that much sweeter.
"It has been a much tougher year and the challenges we have met have reinforced the team," he said. "When you have an easy year, you don't need each other as much.
"Obviously you look back on a season and you see races where things didn't go well," added the Englishman.
"Hungary was a low point but that was a combination of things -- the car didn't work very well, Michael didn't have a great race, and it's been so competitive that if you have a couple of things you are not quite on top of then you get lapped.
"We've had to work harder to make sure everything has been working 100 per cent.
"We just faced much stronger competition with Williams, McLaren, Renault and Michelin. And I think that was the key to such a great championship."