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Schumacher confident before Monza showdown
September 09, 2003 15:18 IST
Michael Schumacher is confident his Ferrari will be good enough to win Sunday's Italian Grand Prix and prevent his rivals from overtaking him in the championship.
Schumacher, chasing a record sixth crown, is one point ahead of Williams's Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya and two clear of McLaren's young Finn Kimi Raikkonen with two races remaining after Monza.
"Yesterday at the Nuerburgring, I said that it seemed to me that we had returned to our usual standard," the five-times champion told Ferrari's web site on Monday after meeting fans at the German track near his boyhood home.
"The final part of the season will be a challenge and I have nothing against that.
"With the experience we have gathered and the consecutive victories over the past few years, we can work calmly and in a concentrated fashion.
"We have developed a new aerodynamic package for this Sunday's race and we have also gathered important data relating to other elements of the package.
"There is no doubt that Monza will be a difficult race, but I reckon we have a realistic chance of winning. Come what may, we will do all we can to turn the championship around," added Schumacher.
Ferrari, champions for the past four years, have won the Italian Grand Prix twice in the last three years but were overtaken by Williams in the constructors' title race in Hungary.
They arrive at the Milan circuit under intense pressure, with the local media portraying them as a team in crisis after Schumacher was lapped in Budapest.
They had five cars testing at three circuits last week after the August test ban ended and team bosses, who have also been waging a war of words with rival tyre suppliers Michelin, said they had made progress for their home race.
"We have a few improvements specifically adapted to the unusual requirements of the Monza circuit," said engine head Paolo Martinelli.
"We did two endurance tests with the latest specification of the 052 engine, which produced positive results in terms of reliability and performance, although of course we will have to see how these work in race conditions."