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Schumacher rules out NASCAR

July 14, 2006 12:21 IST

NASCAR fans can forget about Ferrari's Michael Schumacher following Juan Pablo Montoya into the US stock car series.

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, like Montoya a former Indy 500 winner and CART champion, could be tempted to return to oval racing one day however.

Schumacher, the seven-times Formula One world champion who made history at Indianapolis this month when he dominated the US Grand Prix to become the first five-times winner at the Brickyard, made clear on Thursday that he could not see the attraction of NASCAR.

"Personally I wouldn't do it because I think, what do you do in NASCAR? What is exciting there? I can't see that, running around in ovals," the German said at the French Grand Prix in Magny-Cours.

"I don't know how heavy these cars are, but [it's] a heavy and very low-developed car to drive compared to a Formula One car," added the 37-year-old, who has yet to decide his future beyond this season.

"I don't see the challenge, for me."

McLaren's Montoya stunned the world of Formula One at the weekend when he turned up in Chicago to announce he was switching to the US series in 2007 to drive a Dodge for Chip Ganassi's team.

McLaren subsequently replaced the Colombian for the Magny-Cours race with Spanish test driver Pedro de la Rosa.

VILLENEUVE EXCITED

While Schumacher was dismissive, Canada's 1997 world champion Villeneuve gave Montoya's move the thumbs up.

"NASCAR has always looked very exciting, racing-wise. It's something definitely to look at if there's no Formula One," said the 35-year-old BMW Sauber driver whose contract expires at the end of the season.

"It's good to see Juan Pablo making the move on his own and not because he was left without a drive.

"I was surprised because it happened early in the year, early enough that there was still time to talk with teams in F1. It's ballsy, it's gutsy and it's great. I was very happy when I saw that," added Villeneuve.

He dismissed any suggestion that the number of races in NASCAR, double Formula One's current 18 rounds, would pose a problem for Montoya.

"Look at a season of Formula One -- racing plus testing, how many weekends is that? It's probably more," said Villeneuve. "We end up driving more in Formula One.

"I would be happy if we had 30 races and no testing, that would be bliss."

However the Canadian doubted many more Grand Prix racers, most of them groomed from infancy in go-karts and European open-wheeled single-seater series, had the requisite skills to follow the Colombian.

"Juan Pablo raced in the States, he raced in ovals so I think it's quite different," said Villeneuve.

"I have raced all around the planet, I can adapt to anything. I've raced on ovals before so I don't think that would be a worry. And I'm North American anyway."

 

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