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Schumacher needs a real win at Indy
June 28, 2006 18:41 IST
Michael Schumacher's only win last year was met by jeers and whistles from a bottle-throwing Indianapolis crowd.
The Ferrari driver can expect a better reception this weekend when Formula One returns to where it so spectacularly shot itself in the foot with a six-car fiasco of a race 12 months ago.
While the crowd can look forward to a real contest at 'The Brickyard' on Sunday, Schumacher's main aim is to prevent Fernando Alonso from chalking up a fifth successive win.
Renault's Alonso, the youngest champion in Formula One history, did not finish in three previous starts at Indianapolis and arrives this time 25 points clear of Schumacher and with 84 points out of a possible 90.
The 24-year-old Spaniard's stretch of domination includes five consecutive poles. He did not start last year at Indy after the Michelin-equipped teams pulled out due to concerns over the safety of their tyres.
That left just Schumacher and five other cars using Bridgestone tyres to fight for the hollowest of victories.
"Indianapolis is another chance to win again and to increase the gap again," said Alonso after standing on top of the podium in Canada on Sunday -- his first success in North America -- for his sixth victory in nine races.
"If we keep winning like this, it is the best defence we can do. Keep attacking and keep winning races."
Ferrari have won five of the six US Grands Prix at Indianapolis and their German ace three of them. Schumacher, second in Montreal and Alonso's closest rival, would welcome another chequered flag.
"Our strategy for the next races has to be attacking and we'll do just that. Anything is still possible," said the seven times champion.
With the season at the midway point, Ferrari boss Jean Todt insists the team have not given up the title battle.
"This does not mean we have thrown in the towel," Todt told reporters after Sunday's race. "We leave Montreal with the same result we got at Silverstone, that's to say a second place with Michael and a fifth for Felipe [Massa].
"We expected tough, close fought races and that's what we got.".
Away from the title contenders, down at the rear end of the starting grid, there will be someone for local fans to cheer on.
For the first time since 1989, when Eddie Cheever finished third in Phoenix, there is an American competing in the US Grand Prix.
Toro Rosso's Scott Speed, a 23-year-old rookie from Manteca, California, took part in Friday practice as a test driver for Red Bull last year and now steps up to the big stage.
"It will be the first time my mom gets to see an F1 car," he said proudly.
"She is finally going to make her way to a race...my whole family will be at Indianapolis and it should be a very nice weekend."
Formula One: The Complete Coverage