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Schumacher: Ferrari not far off Renault 06 Feb 2006

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari. Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain, 31 January - 3 February 2006. World ©  Patching/Sutton

Michael Schumacher has hinted that a Ferrari revival could be on the cards in 2006. Following three days testing with their new 248 F1 machine in Spain last week, Schumacher suggested that the Italian team are among those most likely to challenge world champions Renault for this year’s title.

“Renault seem to be the strongest team at this time, but Honda and ourselves are not far behind,” he told his official website. “That's my view right now.”

Schumacher’s fastest time at Valencia last week was a 1m 11.640s. That was just over a second slower than Fernando Alonso’s best of 1m 10.530s for Renault, but nevertheless, the German was happy with Ferrari’s progress.

“All in all, I'm absolutely satisfied with where we're at,” he added. “There is still no reason to be less than optimistic. Of course, we encountered a few small problems during our tests - but finding them is what testing is all about. But in general things are looking good.”

Schumacher needs a dramatic improvement in Ferrari’s form if he is to have any chance of recapturing his championship crown from Alonso. Last year in the uncompetitive F2005, he won just a single race to the Spaniard’s seven.