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Rediff.com  » Sports » Hamilton doubts Schumacher will triumph in new season

Hamilton doubts Schumacher will triumph in new season

February 05, 2011 17:50 IST

Fernando Alonso may have singled out Michael Schumacher as a big Formula One title rival this season but McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was having none of that after calling his own team's new car a "masterpiece" on Friday.

Speaking after a public launch in the centre of the German capital, Schumacher's backyard, the 26-year-old Briton played down the chances of the country's most successful driver chalking up a record eighth championship.

"I won't say what I think," Hamilton said when asked about his Mercedes rival's prospects and Ferrari driver Alonso's viewpoint. He then gave an insight anyway.

"He's a seven-times world champion so you have to assume he will be at his best this year if he wants to be, and if his car and his team have done a good job.

McLaren unveil new car"Personally I don't think it's going to be much different to the previous season but he can easily prove us wrong," added Hamilton.

Schumacher, now 42, made a disappointing comeback last season after three years out and was comfortably beaten by younger team mate and compatriot Nico Rosberg.

Mercedes, who also provide McLaren's engines and took over the title-winning Brawn team at the end of 2009, failed to provide either of their drivers with a truly competitive car however -- something they have worked hard to rectify for 2011.

Jenson Button, who won the 2009 championship with Brawn and still has plenty of friends at that team, had a different perpective to McLaren team mate Hamilton.

"I think Mercedes will be competitive, yes," he said.

"With Ross (Brawn) at the helm they will produce a competitive car and give Nico and Michael a chance to have good results. They are definitely a team that will be fighting for victories this year.

"I think when Michael gets the car around him that he feels he has been a part of, he will be competitive," said Button.

Hamilton, Schumacher, Button, Alonso and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel will make five champions on the starting grid when the season starts in Bahrain on March 13 and the former, who took the crown in 2008, was confident about his own chances.

"I wouldn't single out any driver out there because there's five world champions, there's other drivers that could also be champions and who all want it just as much," said Hamilton. "I want it, we all want it as much as the other guy.

"None of them worry me. I know I can beat whoever I go up against. I don't have a worry for anyone. The only concern can be that you don't have the car beneath you to do the job but I think that we do."

What his new MP4-26 car will really look like when raced, despite being assembled piece by piece in front of the public on Friday, remained a closely-guarded secret.

The one on display had a fake engine, makeshift exhausts and last year's front wing.

Seasoned photographers realised immediately what was up. The fact McLaren made no attempt to stop them taking pictures of what should have been the most sensitive parts was a giveaway.

Hamilton smiled and said it was all part of the game. His body language suggested he knew what the team were hiding and he was relishing the prospect of putting it to good use.

"For us, with all the teams, you release a car and you hold back parts that you don't want people to see," he said.

"The sooner they see them, the more time they have to investigate and see if that works for them. So we all try to hold our cards close while still trying to move forward in the most efficient way.

"It doesn't mean it's going to be a lightning bolt when we get it out, it just looks beautiful and I think it's definitely a masterpiece," said Hamilton.

"I think it looks and is the best car that we've built. But then of course we've still got to put it up against the toughest competitors and try to outgun them."
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