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Schumacher expects tough race 10 Sep 2004

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari wears his new "7 Times World Champion" cap in the official FIA press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, 9 September 2004

Michael Schumacher was very matter-of-fact yesterday about the heavy accident he had at Monza during last week’s testing, which was due to a puncture on his Ferrari, but admits that he expects to have to fight for another victory on Sunday.

“The cause [of the accident] was leaking air from the tyre and the consequence was that the tyre blew up and the crash was a result of this,” he explained, adding: “There is no consequence [beyond that]. I felt a bit stiff the next day but nothing of a drama. Actually it was quite all right because we have invested a lot of time in the seat, in the headrest area, in all the surroundings in the cockpit area in terms of safety, and it paid out, so I felt pretty good afterwards.”

As the paddock was swept with the talk of Schumacher’s former Nemesis Jacques Villeneuve making a possible return to Formula One racing with a drive for Sauber, Schumacher was focused more on the race, which would mark Ferrari’s 13th win in a season in which the world championships are already wrapped up.

“The competition, we know, is going to be tough here - (McLaren) Mercedes and Renault looked very strong at the test here and you can never discount Williams and BAR because we know they are strong - so we are in a position where we know we have the possibility to fight for the win but we are going to face tough opposition.”

On the question of ensuring that team mate Rubens Barrichello is not overtaken for second place overall by Jenson Button, Schumacher said: “We have had a pretty much perfect year so far and to really make it perfect would be to have Rubens in the second position in the drivers’ championship as well because that’s the thing left to achieve. If you look at the points in the championship it’s probably fair to say that there is a fair chance this will happen, so we will try. But I don’t know if I can help him. I mean, first of all he is responsible for himself. But if there was a moment I could do it, certainly I would.”

Meanwhile, at Toyota Olivier Panis now looks forward to what is likely to be his final European Grand Prix race with the announcement that the veteran Frenchman, the only one currently on the grid, will act as Toyota’s test driver next season.

On his home ground, Jarno Trulli is also desperately looking for an upturn in fortune after Spa, where he started his Renault from pole but faded badly in the race. “For whatever reason, the first 10 laps the car was literally flying. It was really good, as I never had it before. And then after the first stop I was struggling again. We didn’t find anything on the car and so we struggled to understand what the problem was. When I analysed the race I can tell you the exact feeling, what the problem was, but when you don’t see anything you can understand [in the telemetry], that’s the worst thing you ever saw.”

The Italian is likely to use a different chassis this weekend.