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Red Bull could surprise: Schumacher
March 03, 2005 11:49 IST
Jenson Button may have to wait a while for that elusive first Formula One victory even if he has what it takes to be a winner, according to Ferrari's Michael Schumacher.
The seven times world champion reckons that old foe David Coulthard's new Red Bull Racing team could spring a few surprises, however.
Schumacher told Reuters before Sunday's Australian season-opener that Button's Honda-powered BAR team did not look like podium-toppers despite finishing last season as overall runners-up.
"He has a high talent to achieve that goal certainly," Schumacher said when asked at a beach volleyball event for sponsor Vodafone whether he thought the 25-year-old Briton was a future winner and champion.
"If he can win a race right now, I'd probably say no because they don't seem to be prepared enough to do so," added Schumacher, who has 83 wins to his credit and most of Formula One's records.
"But the season is very long, you never know what happens."
"I think the Red Bull team actually could go quite well this year. I've seen testing and they were quite competitive," Schumacher said.
Red Bull, owned by Austrian energy drink billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, have taken over the old Jaguar team.
Button, desperate to be a winner after 84 Grand Prix starts, finished on the podium 10 times last year and was third in the drivers' standings behind the two Ferrari drivers in the most one-sided championship of recent years.
Schumacher won 13 of the 18 races.
Although Sunday marks the start of his bid for an unprecedented eighth championship, Schumacher has said already that Ferrari will be on the back foot after deciding to leave their new car at home for now.
The car, which Ferrari hope will take them to a seventh successive constructors title, will be introduced either in Bahrain next month or Spain in May.
"I'm confident that we will be ready for the fight. You never can be confident of winning the championship, it's a sport and everything can happen," said Schumacher, who has won four times in the last five years in Melbourne.
Asked whether he expected to see anyone match his achievements in his lifetime, the German was circumspect.
"It's a question of whether it's important," he said. "I don't think it is.
"We are just living in the time we live now, (five times world champion Juan Manuel) Fangio lived in his time and things are not comparable. Things won't be comparable in the future."
Schumacher appeared relaxed, at ease and inevitably successful -- beating team mate Rubens Barrichello's team 7-5 in the beach volleyball alongside Australia's 2000 Sydney Olympic gold medallists Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst.
Cook pursued Barrichello along the St Kilda beach with a bottle of champagne, determined to give the Brazilian a pre-season drenching.
"It was great. It's always fantastic to do a sport where you have professional people around you because they simply raise the game and the level and it makes it a lot more fun," said Schumacher, who regularly plays charity soccer matches.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage