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Schumacher - Ferrari ready for title charge 13 Apr 2006

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari 248 F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 11 March 2006

Michael Schumacher says his and Ferrari’s challenge for the 2006 world championship should begin in earnest at next weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix, despite the team’s disappointing start to the season.

Schumacher scored an encouraging second place at the opening round in Bahrain, but since then the Italian team has struggled for form, with both cars crashing out of the last race in Australia. However, the Schumacher is convinced that the start of the European season, on Ferrari’s home soil at Imola, should see a change of fortunes.

“We are certain that we are in better shape than may appear from the outside,” Schumacher told the team’s official website. “The potential is there; now we have to improve even more and be consistent. We are working towards this with our development programme. At Imola there will be many new features that we are testing at the moment.

Schumacher tested for the team at Vallelunga last week and is due back on track in Barcelona this week. The former champion insists morale at the team is as high as ever, despite the disappointing results of late.

“We are full of hope,” he added. “Last week's tests went according to plan and this is always a good sign in our sport. Things are fine on the team: everyone is pulling in the right direction and we all want to win. The beginning of the European season should coincide with the start of our drive for the world title.”

With the media continuing to speculate over Schumacher’s future in Formula One racing, the German denied that the pressure to succeed was getting to him and insisted that his accident in Melbourne was not evidence of him suddenly taking extra risks.

“This is ridiculous!” he said. “I will continue doing what I do as I have always done, with great enthusiasm, a will to win and I will enjoy it. This is a sport and we have to attack and take risks if you want to win.”

Schumacher has an exemplary record at Imola, having won there a record six times, and he will be hoping that the Ferrari fans can help him on his way to a seventh triumph next Sunday.

“Supporters always help in difficult moments,” he added. “There is nothing better than hearing the fans. It is obvious that we would like to give them a reason to cheer us.”