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Ferrari boss keen to show Schumacher his drivers are better
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Ferrari boss keen to show Schumacher his drivers are better
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Jan 2010   |  4:05 pm GMT  |  116 comments

Ferrari is hosting its annual media and sponsor event in the Italian ski resort Madonna di Campiglio this week and that means that there will be plenty of Ferrari-related headlines for the next few days.

Picture 4
Today it was the turn of team principal Stefano Domenicali to speak. He talked about Ferrari’s need to get back to the front of the grid, he spoke about the importance of fuel consumption this season, now that refuelling is banned and he talked about history, recent history.

“Let’s not forget Fernando is the only driver on the track who in his career has beaten Michael [to the world championship]. Fernando has everything to beat him,” said Domenicali, recalling the 2006 season in particular, where it was a straight fight between Schumacher and Alonso for the title.

Although Alonso’s chances were not helped by a controversial incident at Monza, when he was penalised for blocking Felipe Massa in qualifying, which handed Schumacher an open goal for the race, Schumacher’s chances were wrecked when his engine blew at Suzuka. It was a great scrap and I felt that it was the handing over of the baton. Schumacher was tired and had lost the motivation to perform at the only level he knows how to – the maximum. But now to everyone’s surprise, he has decided that he can still operate at that level and a comeback is achievable.

Back in 2002, when Juan Pablo Montoya was the exciting new guy challenging Schumacher in races, I remember asking Michael privately who he thought his greatest threat was going to come from. He said it was not Montoya, nor was it Kimi Raikkonen. Instead it was Alonso, who at that time was a Renault test driver. He’d seen enough of him from testing and in his 2001 F1 season with Minardi to know that Alonso would be the one to take his crown, just as Ayrton Senna immediately identified Schumacher in 1992 as the one.

Schumacher’s decision to abandon his deal with Ferrari and sign up to race with Mercedes has not gone down well with the Ferrari fans around the world, known as “tifosi” considering the move an act of betrayal. It is clear from Domenicali’s careful words that the team feels a little let down. I think the comeback surprised them; I spoke to some team members when the Schumacher to Mercedes rumours were gathering pace in late November and they seemed calm and said they had no reason to believe he would not honour his deal with them.

“Leaving the Ferrari family is difficult. The tifosi are not happy with the choice that he made -and not just the Italian ones, ” he added. ” What has happened has left its mark. Now we have to turn the page. We have to show Michael that this is a strong team. We want to win. But we must also remember that Michael has given a lot to Ferrari as well as what Ferrari has given him. His presence will be another stimulus for our team.

“Michael…is an extraordinary and strong driver. But Fernando and Felipe are able to beat him even if Michael is still very strong.”

Domenicali confirmed that motorcycle ace Valentino Rossi will test a Ferrari F1 car at Barcelona on 21 and 22 January – this will be a two year old car which will not be affected by the testing restrictions.

The pressure on Domenicali is significant this season. The team has won three of the last six world championships – two constructors’ and one drivers’ but last season was a blank and a return to winning ways is essential, especially now the investment has been made to drop Raikkonen and hire Alonso.

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116 Comments
  1. Misu says:

    From the outside it looks to me that Ferrari made him to go as much as he wanted to leave. Look at the current structure of the team, there are only a few people who remained after the dream team dismantled and appointing Alonso – a driver who was a persona non grata during the Todt years – was something that was a show of intend by the management. If they want to talk about family, let’s do it, but Schumacher’s only remaining family member is Ross Brawn, not Domenicali, Montezemolo or Alonso.

  2. Paige says:

    The Tifosi have absolutely zero reason to be upset with Schumacher’s choice, considering all that he gave to Ferrari. It is indisputable that Schumacher carried the team on his back to the top of the sport, and it’s become clear since the departure of he and Brawn who the real force behind Ferrari was during his time. He has absolutely no debt to Ferrari that would constitute his return with Mercedes- his national team- as an act of betrayal, and in fact it is Ferrari and the Tifosi who have a great debt to him.

    1. you hit the nail on the head right there fella, if anyone has a problem with what he’s done they really need to sort their life out.

    2. JEEEPp says:

      Very true indeed.I am massive Ferrari fan, and have a lot of respect for Schumi and what he did for Ferrari, they were in the doldrums, and he resurrected them. It seems some Ferrari people are just sour. I say thank you Michael and best of luck.

      For the first time ever in F1 Im torn between teams/drivers, Hamilton/Button/Schumi/Alonso Ferrari/McLaren. I am so excited!

  3. rikin says:

    “Schumacher was tired and had lost the motivation to perform at the only level he knows how to – the maximum”

    Really? I’m not so sure about that, as his engine was the one to blow not him in Suzuka.

    1. James Allen says:

      No I’m talking about the reasons why he retired in 2006, not why he failed to win the championship

      1. F1-FAN says:

        Everyone knows Montezemollo pushed him out insted of Kimi. And now Kimi is pushed out instead of Alonso. Let’s see who is next.

      2. Stephen Kellett JAF1 says:

        Well, I guess the sensible(?) analysis, if that is true (which seems > 50%) is that getting rid of LDM would be good for Ferrari.

      3. Zaryaan says:

        I disagree, Ferrari never pushed Schumacher out to bring in Kimi. Schumacher quit at the top of his game and there is no doubt about that. He also knew, that if he stayed, Kimi was going to replace his friend Felipe Massa.

        Schumacher retired because did the maximum he could at the end of that period.

    2. Brace says:

      Well, Alonso’s engine also blew at Monza and he was thrown out of the lead in Hungary by that loose wheel, but it was Schumacher who made driver errors at Melbourne and that stupid tangle in Hungary.
      Alonso made non of those.

      1. jose says:

        and don’t forget , the ferrari engine blew, because alonso was putting pressure on the german.

      2. Lola says:

        It is not true that Alonso was putting a lot of pressure on MS at Suzuka 2006.
        The lead MS had, was fairly comfortable at the moment the engine failed.

        It was just one of those things…. they happens.

  4. Peter says:

    Just wanted to add that Schumacher also said, that Kimi is the fastest guy on the whole grid. Kimi he would have beaten him, too if the car had not let him down so many times.

  5. Pierre says:

    James,
    what Domenicali said about fuel consumption is your next story?

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s part of another story, on its own not very interesting.

  6. Danny says:

    Well it is understandable that Ferrari may be a little dissapointed that he left, but when he joined in 1996 he was hired to deliver the driver’s championship which by the time he won it, it had been 20 years of waiting. He delivered that and much much more, and maybe Schumacher may have felt a little aggrieved if we are to believe the rumours that he was slightly pushed from his race seat in 2006, maybe he thought, you(Ferrari)could have shown a bit more loyalty to me then. But I have no doubt that Ferrari and Schumacher parted company on good terms. As for who’s better Alonso,Massa,Schumacher, Schumacher obvisouly with his track record, and Schumacher still thinks he can beat them. If anyone can come back and win a Championship its Michael Schumacher.

  7. Irish conor says:

    Let’s just say bring it on. I can’t wait for season to start. Alonso v hamilton v vettel v schumi. 4 potentially all time greats. Wish the ice man was still there too because he has got more natural abitity than them put together but doesn’t have their drive and passion.

    1. Seye says:

      Massa to beat all of the above… most underated guy in professional sport

      1. Irish con says:

        Haha

  8. Rupinder Singh says:

    Don’t you think that Ferrari are getting overly obsessed with Rossi? I don’t mean to be superstituous but, everytime he gets a test, Ferrari struggle.

  9. Qiang says:

    It is pretty obvious that teams who is capable of extracting the best from Alonso will be a winner. I still believe McLaren could easily won a lot more championships in the last 3 seasons had they stuck to their original deal with Alonso. Now with the established Red Bull and Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari will find it much harder to win races let alone championships. I hope the two great teams will fight back this season in style. If not, they will become 2nd tier teams at the end the 2010 season.

  10. guy says:

    Hey James,

    Is Ferrari putting Rossi back in the car simply for PR? Or do they actually want to have him race at some point?

    1. James Allen says:

      A possible outing in a 3rd car was discussed, if lots of new teams fail to materialise. But I don’t think that will happen. Rossi is off to rallying in 2011 is my hunch

    2. T-Bone says:

      Rossi will never race in F1, it’s too late, but just like Ferrari, he’s an Italian racing legend.
      An outing in a Ferrai F1 car is just a bit of fun.

      I think he’ll delay the rallying until he completely annihilates ALL of Agostini’s records…and my hunch is that he’ll do it on a Ducati.

  11. Mac says:

    It *seems* as if the focus is going to be on Alonso winning the WDC. Is that right? Massa is essentially there to make up the numbers?

    I said when Scumi originally retired that he would be back with a Ross Brawn owned/managed team . . . took longer than I expected.

    1. Morris Mao says:

      It all depends on who would be the fastest in qualifying and who would be the strongest in track battleing.

      Let’s wait and see.

    2. Brandon says:

      I would have thought that two years ago too, but Massa won in 08 and he beat Kimi, Alonso, Vettel, and Lewis to do that. I’m not a fan of Massa but he’s not incapable or anything. He should be right up there with Alonso.

  12. Chris Bird says:

    You have feel sorry for Felipe Massa. Already his team is bigging up Alonso and then adding a hasty quote about him too as if they have just remembered he’s also in the team ..I can’t see Massa excepting this in the long term but where else could he go?

    My money will still be on Massa for Turkey

    1. James Allen says:

      Of course. He owns it. If he wins there again they should let him keep the place!

      1. Seye says:

        turkey, bahrain, and interlagos belong to felipe.. has all three places bought and paid for

  13. Christopher says:

    James could you consider less-sensationizing headlines? No doubt I am a great fan of your writing and F1 but the headlines feel very “sensationized” Just a feedback and keep up the fantastic writing for F1.

    Thanks!

    1. James Allen says:

      How is that sensationalising it? Domenicali is quoted as saying that Schumacher is great but his drivers can beat him..?

      1. Brian says:

        You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can never please everyone all of the time.

        Keep up the good work, you and Joe have taken F1 journalism to a new (higher) level IMO.

      2. James Allen says:

        Thanks for that. Joe who? ; )

      3. AlexD says:

        I agree with you, James:-)
        This is what Stefano is trying to say – Ferrari is bigger than Michael and Ferrari will make Felipe and Alonso winning against Michael. It is as simple as that:-)

  14. AK says:

    I am sure that Ferrari were already motivated to work harder for this season, but with Alonso’s arrival and Schumacher’s return, they now face humiliation if they don’t deliver, so they will be even more motivated.
    I still don’t think that Ferrari will win the next championship (whether driver or constructor) though they may win a few races because they heavily relied on using their private tracks for developing their car and since the cost-cutting measures forbidding that, they are simply not as good as the British designers (whether Brawn, Red Bull or McLaren).

  15. Eric Weinraub says:

    I have been a LOYAL Ferrari fan since the early to mid ’70s and the team have NO ONE but themselves to blame…. Lets see… first they push him out of the team for Kimi. Then, they make NO effort to bring him back… He’s a racer.

  16. Paul Mc says:

    I think you would have to be a bitter Ferrari fan to feel “hurt” by Schumis decision. I’ve supported Ferrari for 15 years and Im delighted he is back racing even in a Mercedes. He propelled Ferrari into glory and has driven his heart out for the team.

    It will be interesting to see if Michael ditches the red helmet it doesn’t look right with a Mercedes logo.

    1. James Allen says:

      His original helmet was in German colours – I’d have thought he would revert to that.

    2. Chris Bird says:

      I agree about the helmet design/colour looking wrong, but then again schumi has never been noted for his dress sense.

      I looking forward to seeing Button and Alonso’s new designs for 2010.

      A few others on the grid could do with updating their old fashioned designs. Mark Webber springs to mind…

    3. Christian Ditch says:

      To be fair I think it will hurt all Ferrari fans to some degree that Schumacher will be back in F1, but not driving a red car. It doesn’t mean that you’re bitter!

      But, speaking as a Ferrari fan, I’d rather him be back in F1 for another team than not be in F1 at all…

  17. Morris Mao says:

    For Alonso in Ferrari, some words from Domenicali are missing:

    “But a driver can be the best in the world but without the best tools, even the best in the world will have problems winning. It will be up to us to give him the right car.”

    So, it’s time for everyone to do their work well.

    One question, just as someone said that Todt was against a Alonso move to Ferrari, before signing Alonso, who was pushing harder on such idea, Domenicali or Montezemolo?

  18. F1ART says:

    Never thought i would ever say this
    “Good luck Schumacher!”

  19. Scuderia@China says:

    I can believe his drivers are at least a match for Schumi. The real question is whether he is a match for Ross Brawn. I know the answer. Would like to hear others’ views though.

    1. AK says:

      Well, Alonso is a certainly a match. He and Hamilton are a younger and better version of Schumacher, as they make less mistakes than him (and I am a fan of Schumacher). Vettel is still learning, and could be ready next year. Massa kept improving too, but he is not really at the same level as this group. But I doubt Domenicali will do a better job than Ross Brawn, Adrian Newey or Martin Whitmarsh. And I am afraid to say but unless the cars are really close to each other in terms of performance, the winner next year will be down to the car as usual.

      1. Christian Ditch says:

        Younger better versions of Schumacher??

        And you’re a Schumacher fan???

        Jog on!!

    2. monktonnik says:

      A good point.

      Ross is the man. I think that Ferrari has the raw talent from an engineering point of view, but with the loss of Todt and Brawn they seem to be struggling. Let’s hope that they can turn it around!

      I still genuinely believe that Schumi has the beating of Massa without any problem. By the same logic, if Alonso fails to dominate Felipe in the same way as Raikkonen then you have to assume that he is not the equal of, or superior to the Ubermeister. I know that Felipe has improved, but no one would say that he is on a level with the greats.

      This is the key to giving us a relative understanding of how all the great names of recent times stack up against each other with the exception of Vettel.

      1. Sam says:

        Better version? You gotta be kidding. You have to watch 94/96 Barcelona, 97 Monaco, 98 Spa, Brazil 2006 and so on…

      2. hamilton2010champ says:

        think you mean spa 97…spa 98 was when he smashed into the back of coulthard!

        monaco 97 is my faviourite…6 seconds clear after 1 lap..incredible

  20. MuddyMatt says:

    If Massa is considered the number two driver no-one seems to have told him that in the past three seasons! On paper initially that was what he was with Kimi but they ended up more closely matched than many thought – don’t forget before his accident he was doing pretty well in that dog of a Ferrari this year with Kimi trailing.

    Kimi’s subsequent results were very impressive but the two stooges in the second car proved comprehensively how difficult it was to drive – so Massa was clearly perfoming very well.

    On that basis the relationship between Massa and Alonso this year will be key to Ferrari’s season. Both very emotional, Massa has one edge over Alonso; grace. I’ll never forget how graciously he accepted defeat to Hamilton in the WDC in Brazol 08, nor that he sought out the BBC for a post race interview at Silverstone to say how nice the Brit fans were to him in 09 when he could easily have been on the first helicopter out of the place. It’s this behaviour which has endeared him to the Ferrari team.

    In contrast, Alonso throws his toys with little provocation. Mercifully for him it doesn’t prevent him driving the doors off every car he’s in. But it’s very divisive.

    So this is going to be a fascinating battle.

    Schumacher at Brawn/Mercedes is an easy story for Domenicalli to talk about in comparison, generates headlines but costs him nothing in intra-team politics. A smokescreen in other words; ‘Ferrari family’ is media/branding spin, Schu-ey will do what Schu-ey does regardless of what Domenicalli says.

    I’d say Ferrari and Schu-ey have shown equal amounts of loyalty to each other anyway.

    1. jose says:

      alonso has changed a lot since 2007, and now is much better with the media, even thoug i liked the guy better then. Now is much more like a robot. Like the rest of the drivers. They all look alike. Boring.

      1. bond007 says:

        i disagree that alonso changed …. who would have dared to dedicate singapore podium to Flavio after all that happened in F1 … it took a moment for me to realise what he said is what i heard :O ….. the thing i like about him the most is that he doesn’t need media manager to tell him what he has to, speaks his mind hes true character …. i am afraid that now he has to change for ferrari though….. i am sure james would agree…… but not sure why there no mention of this thing in James’s blog that day may be its media thing not to highlight the whole thing …i am not sure … but i am sure that is big thing … but the next day everyone were behaving as if nothing has happened ….

      2. jose says:

        A person that is gratefull. Briatore didn’t do anything bad to him.
        I assume you wouldn’t stand up for a friend, if he makes a mistake.
        I just can’t agree with that bond 007.

      3. bond007 says:

        standing up for Flavio is debatable, but i am talking abt the guts this guy has to do such a thing… when whole world is trying to digest the whole crashgate thing… this guy goes ahead and dedicates podium to flavio ….

  21. Zobra Wambleska says:

    I think the Alonso/Massa match-up at Ferrari will create some surprises. Massa has become very fast, is well settled in the team and I think this will upset Alonso in the begining. I feel Alonso will eventually prevail over Massa, but it will be run very close. That said Ferrari still has to provide them with a car capable of beating the competition and I don’t think they’ll be there this year.

    1. SF says:

      Remember, the 2010 car has been in development for quite a while.

  22. RON says:

    Ferrari have a looming problem on their hands…

    Alonso is nothing compared to Michael…

    Alonso proved how slow he is at McLaren, and then proved what a poor car developer he is at Renault…

    Ferrari are in danger of going without a win all season…

    2010 will be about the real stars of the show – Hamilton vs Schumacher…

    Ferrari really need to replace Luca, so they can recognize and attract better talent to Ferrari, otherwise, I believe they are about to enter a long dark era in their history…

    1. jose says:

      you don’t like alonso. That much we know.

    2. bond007 says:

      oh here comes RON himself ….. hamilton’s *** ******* ..hahahah now he thinks mchamilton is better than Alonso..how sick :D

    3. irish conor says:

      mate ur totally off the mark.the 07 mclaren was all wrong for alonsos very aggresive initial turn in style.it also was a perfect match for lewis who sayed many times he preferred the 07 macca till 08.if hamilton had off came in against him in 06 till nando’s team with the grippy michelin lewis would have been 30 points or more off fernando.also when the renault first hit the track last year at first test it was 3seconds off the fastest lap times and the brawn hadnt been on track yet.but with fernandos help he set fastest lap in germany and got pole in hungary before stopping development.2008 renault started season with another dog yet renault and fernando turned it around and in he last 8 races of 08 fernando outscored everybody on the grid.

    4. irish conor says:

      and by the way are u sure your not ron dennis lol

    5. danish Hanif says:

      ron, none of the readers will agree with you even ron danise. well i believe in 07 ALO showed the world who to keep performing when your own house is on fire, every one in your family is against you and you are still consistent and winning GPs.

      lets not forget in Hungery 07, it was lewis who didnt obey the team orders and in revenge ALO blocked him. and ALO got 5 places grid penalty which cost him a win.

      in monaco 07, yes lewis was fast but he made made a mistake in his final qly run and guess what ALO didnt and took pole, so he deserves to win. their were no team orders. lewis fans always 1st to point team order in this GP.

      thats also not forget they both are great driver. lewis is lucky that he started his f1 career with McLearn (great car) and had partner like ALO. ALO is far more superior on setting up the car.

      in 08 and 09 renault was not up to par, they were behind from very 1st test in 09 and then they decided not to develop the car, dont blame ALO.

      1. Kent Paul says:

        Wow.

        Just wow.

      2. jose says:

        i hope we will see this year who is the best. It’s hard to say. They are very close. Performance on qualy will be paramount.

    6. Fausta says:

      You do not know what you are talking about. Alonso is one of the better car developers. Some cars, like the past 2 Renaults, can only be helped so much.

  23. Scotty says:

    Apparently Schuberth are working on new helmet with a different livery

    1. Christian Ditch says:

      Where abouts did you hear this?

  24. Brian says:

    Back in 2002, when Juan Pablo Montoya was the exciting new guy challenging Schumacher in races, I remember asking Michael privately who he thought his greatest threat was going to come from. He said it was not Montoya, nor was it Kimi Raikkonen. Instead it was Alonso, who at that time was a Renault test driver. He’d seen enough of him from testing and in his 2001 F1 season with Minardi to know that Alonso would be the one to take his crown, just as Ayrton Senna immediately identified Schumacher in 1992 as the one.

    Pity you didn’t ask him whether Alonso was likely to be beaten by a rookie (who had worse reliability than Alonso did). I guess that no one could’ve predicted that, but it does put a bit of a damper on the whole “succession” thing, doesn’t it?

    1. James Allen says:

      Let’s not start that again..

      1. Brian says:

        Fair enough.

    2. irish conor says:

      if mclaren had of backed fernando till the hilt they would more than likely be sitting with 4 out of the last 6 world titles.they backed hamilton and ended up with 1. also add up the error count since hamilton came into f1 and compare it to nando and see what it looks like then.

      1. Arya says:

        James, you should have asked-”Don’t you think Lewis Hamilton will succeed you?” and that also ni 2002.

    3. Christian Ditch says:

      Hahahaa Hamilton fans are so blind!

  25. Uppili says:

    James,

    With a two year old car they can not be testing latest aero improvements and tyres. But is it not possible that they can test some updates to the engine for 2010 season and perhaps even some other internals too and circumvent the testing ban?

    1. James Allen says:

      I guess it comes down to trust on that front. But there is a common ECU so I guess the FIA would have some understanding of what’s inside the engine – bit off my patch

  26. Peter says:

    Those Ferrari fans have to realise their utter delusion. Considering Schumacher did more for the team than any other driver in it’s history and no thanks from them? If the tifosi think their team can reach the heights of the Schumacher days then my god are they in for a shock. For one, Domenicalli is a pale pale shadow of his former boss Jean Todt and he showed that today. No expression of gratitude or thanks to Michael, just petty little mind games.

    1. jose says:

      but he seems to me that is like todt, in trying to focus on a number one driver. He talks about alonso beating schumacher, alonso coming at the right moment, alonso…
      And at the end, oh!!!, there is also massa.

    2. Christian Ditch says:

      Petty mind games??

      “We have seen some fans not appreciate Michael’s choice, but we should not forget history, what Michael has done with Ferrari, just as we should not forget what Ferrari has done for Michael”

      Hardly petty. Nor mind games.

  27. Hephaestus says:

    I have to wonder why there seem to be a consensus about Schumacher being the one that brought back to the top after years of starvation. I don’t think Alain Prost was a mediocre driver. To me, the key man in ferrari success is Jean Todt. Although I hate that man & some of his methods, I have to admit that without his ability to manage the team, his radical restructuration and the appointment of the right men, you could have brought as many schumacher as you want, Ferrari would not have won so many championships. Now that todt has gone, Dommenicali needs to deliver a good car & good management to get as good results as Todt.

    1. hamilton2010champ says:

      alot of the personnel who joined ferrari, rory byrne ross brawn for example joined ferrari because shumacher was going ther as they had previously wokred with him at benetton.

      You have to remember when MS joined ferrari in 96 it had been 17 years since theyd wone the WDC. Shcumacher was hired to win it! without him it wouldnt of happened, he almost won it in 97 in a car tha was no match for the williams. If you watched the season from 96-99 you will see just how MS drove the wheels of the car to make up for its performance deficits. Everyone complains that he had number 1 status etc but how often did his teamates actually get themselves into a position where they were in front of him?

      i read an interview with ross brawn and he said what made the partnership between himself and MS so sucessful was that brawn could come up with a strategy tell shcumacher how much time he needed to gain an shcumacher could do it…no one else on the grid at that time could have done it thats why the team was moulded around him. see hungary 98 as an example..extraordianiry drive in that race.

      Which although we’d all love to see teamates battling 1 on 1 for supremacy..if you want to win championships you have a clear number 1 and 2 driver so that your own drivers arent taking points from eachother!

  28. Noelinho says:

    Ferrari have definitely got the strongest line-up from where I’m standing. On the one hand, you have Alonso, who is always on the ball, whilst on the other, you have Massa, who, on his day can throw his car around the track faster than anyone. As a pairing, there is surely no match.

    I think it’ll take a while for Ferrari to match the pace I expect to see from Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren, but if anyone can extract wins from a car that is marginally below the level of another, I’d lay my money on these two , every time.

  29. Vic says:

    Hi James, just wanted to ask your opinion…

    Ferrari stopped around midway during ’09 to fully concentrate on the ’10 car, so in theory they should have the upper-hand from a development point of view, but at the same time since the ’10 car is more of an evolution of the ’09 design as opposed to major changes (i.e. between ’08 and ’09) won’t it be a disadvantage at the same time as the other teams continued to develop their cars through ’09 and hence have useful data back from the remaining races on their new developments which is more critical with the testing ban in place.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, you could argue that their start point for the 2010 car was well behind Red Bull’s for example. That’s the car to watch for me, the McLaren should be better than last year’s car too, but it’s the Red Bull everyone has an eye on

      1. Tonksy says:

        Surely there’s some concern that things could go very pear-shaped for Red Bull this year – if the other teams are going to be building clones of the ’09 Red Bull, they could easily find themselves back in the mid-pack rather than way out in front, where a lot of people expect them to be. They still seem to get reliability issues too.
        Having said that, they could build an absolute animal and blow everyone away. As you said James, definitely the car to watch for 2010.

      2. PaulL says:

        Big year for Mark Webber at RBR too – mainly because most people think it will be his last at the team and if the car is as good as it’s meant to be…

        But personally I think Mark is one of the finest “#2″ drivers out there and a good driver overall. You don’t really want two drivers stealing points off each other.

  30. Mike Dawson says:

    Hey, I know what you mean.

    It’s like the early 90′s over again… We all wanted Shumi to do well… but not too well! :)

  31. Carlos Del Valle says:

    James Allen said: “Schumacher’s chances were wrecked when his engine blew at Suzuka”

    Well, that’s part of the game. Massa’s chances were also wrecked when his engine blew at Hungaroring 2008. And Senna at Monza in 1989 etc. Sometimes we recall some engine failures and forget others (would our beloved Hamilton be World Champion without that Ferrari engine failure?)

    Anyway, I have just finished reading my copy of your book and it is amazing, keep up the nice job.

    Carlos Del Valle

    1. Peter says:

      And if our beloved Hamilton hadn’t won in 2008, we’d no doubt be harking back to some pretty awful stewards decisions that made Massa gain, and Lewis lose. You forgot to mention that didn’t you!

  32. Richard Bell says:

    I think Ferrari and the tifosi are being a bit childish towards Michael’s move to Mercedes, they should respect his decision after what he did for them.
    On a different Schumacher matter, many people say he lost the 2006 title because his engine blew at Suzuka which is total rubbish. As Mr Allen has correctly worded, he lost the CHANCE to win it, otherwise you could blame a number of things for the loss like his poor performance in Hungary.

    1. Christian Ditch says:

      Domenicali today;

      “We have seen some fans not appreciate Michael’s choice,” he said. “But we should not forget history, what Michael has done with Ferrari, just as we should not forget what Ferrari has done for Michael.

      1. Richard Bell says:

        That’s good to hear.

  33. Irish conor says:

    Depend James. Vale won’t want to bow out with gorgeous jorge walking off with his moto gp title plus re regs will keep him interested

  34. Carlm21 says:

    Massa has got to get the job done in the next season or two otherwise his seat will probably go to Vettel. If he comes back and wins the world championship this season it will be one hell of an achievement after his accident. In a way I want him to beat Alonso. Felipe Massa for the title.

  35. Tone says:

    Where do you get that from? Ferrari gave MS everything he needed to win multiple titles including their soul. Austria 2002 ring a bell?

  36. David Smith says:

    Everyone says about Brawn / Schumacher – Lets not forget about Rob Smedley and Felipe Massa are they no a powerful combination?? James who is going to engineer Alonso at Ferrari i’d personally like to think it would be Chris Dyer.

    1. James Allen says:

      No, Dyer is too senior for that now. I’ll find out

  37. Zaryaan says:

    Carlos Tevez left Manchester United to go to Manchester City and he disappointed the Manchester United fans.

    It’s the same thing here. You don’t go and play for the rival. You’d never see Wayne Rooney go and play for Liverpool, if anything he’d leave and go to Madrid. Same principle here

  38. Chris Chaffers says:

    I thought I was getting sick of Michael towards the end there. In reality I was getting sick of Ferrari. In becoming so “corporate” they’ve lost a lot of the charm that attracted fans to them in the first place.

    If the remaining tifosi are so feral that they place blind loyalty above the romance of motorsport then I won’t be quizzing them for any further opinions. That is mass-psychosis and probably can’t be reasoned with anyway.

  39. Tom - Australia says:

    Ferrari as an F1 team remind me of the popular kid in highschool. When something finally doesn’t go their way they suddenly think the world is against them and everything is “unfair”.

    Alonso in my eyes is F1′s arch-villain. I am hoping he is beaten by both McLarens, both Red Bulls and also Schuey. I also hope Massa beats him.

    1. jose says:

      keep dreaming.

      1. danish Hanif says:

        sweet dreams

  40. T-Bone says:

    I was a Ferrari fan long before Michael showed up. He was fantastic and brought me so much joy and I was sad to see him go, especially as his final race was a gobsmacker.

    I’m happy to see him back, and I’m looking forward to seeing Massa kick his butt.

    Whatever happens this year, I think it’s safe to say that Schumacher and Hamilton will lock horns.

    Felipe for the championship.

    1. Schmidt says:

      Massa was Michael’s lapdog.
      [mod]

      1. T-Bone says:

        Nice.

  41. Scott says:

    Joe Saward would be my guess. The only two F1 writers you can trust is you two.

  42. Sam says:

    In F1 there are always many variables and everyone can beat everyone.

    Alonso got 26 points advantage which he gained from largely superior car when MS and Ferrari were suffering engine change and other problems.

    Then he got a car that can easily finishes second for the rest of season, lose 2 points in every race.

    Largely superior car for the half of the season + second best car for the next half of the season means, he got the best overall package.

    But he could only do that when Schumi was the only guy to take points off him. If he is going to compete against multiple contenders, like next season, he will have a big problem.

    Still, 2006 championship was quite an achievement for him.

    But, I don’t think it was enough to convince that in the same car, same day Alonso could shade Schumi.

    Massa owns tracks like Brazil, Turkey etc.. In Brazil 2006, Schumi was faster in quali before the hydraulic failure. That just show the underlying pace of him.I don’t think Alonso has that.

    And in Turkey 2006, he was faster then he decided to opt for heavier fuel option in final qualifying round which cost him a place to Alonso with the help of safety car.

    1. Vic says:

      Alot of people seem to forget that Renault were running a ‘Mass Damper’ which was deemed illegal by the FIA half way through 2006, after that i think Alonso only won one race in the 2nd half of the season. I think ferrari are slightly over-rating Alonso, and Massa will hopefully prove this.

      1. Jon Wilde says:

        Couldn’t agree more!!

  43. Silverstoned says:

    2006 Schum and Alonso won 7 races each. But Massa [unlike Rubens before him] was allowed to win in 2 races.
    Hence Alonso won 2 titles instead of Schums winning 8.

    Then, for Massa, he packed in his career early, or so he says.

    What one wonders, has Schums himself got out of this strange friendship???

    1. jose says:

      i thought were seven titles.
      Eight is rossi.

  44. Michael Nichol says:

    Historically the Italians have had a rough time getting their red fire engines up front in F-1. No, Ross Brawn, Jean Todt, Rory Byre, and Michael Schumacher are not Italian. 2010 Ferrari will be up against it with the English, 2 top teams, and the Germans, 1 top team. Good luck to Fernando, and ‘the midget’ (Massa) for 2010.

  45. Carlm21 says:

    Come on Michael Schumacher beat Ferrari in 2010 and gain some more revenge on Fernando Alonso.

  46. Sebee says:

    Maybe if that Ferrari Engine didn’t let Schumi down in Suzuka, he would have had 8 and wouldn’t be back for more at Ferrari’s cost. Maybe if they didn’t push him out…ahh, enough speculation.

    I throught I was a Ferrari fan, but it turns out I’m just a simple Schumi Fan. Perhaps it’s the fact I’m 35 – I just can’t respect these twenty something kids. A man needs to show these kids how it’s done.

    Somehow Schumi has managed to be a bit of an “underdog” and we always cheer for the underdog. With 7 in the can, how he did it – I don’t know.

    No matter how you slice it, the man is a genius when it comes to the environment around him for success. No one does it better. This will be one hell of a season.

    Can the “old man” still jump on the podium. You bet your ass! And soon you’ll see how high!

  47. The Limit says:

    @James Allen.

    Great article James. I remember you mentioning Schumacher’s predictions about Alonso during your ITV race commentary back in 2002. I can remember being very surprised by this at the time, after all, as you pointed out, it was Montoya and Raikkonen who were taking the fight to the German.
    What I found fascinating by Schumacher’s comeback was the reaction from drivers who had never raced him, especially from the likes of Vettel and Hamilton. Even to men like these, who are both very talented and gifted drivers, Michael Schumacher is the high water mark. The standard of greatness if you will.
    For well over a decade, an F1 driver was judged on his ability to challenge and beat Michael Schumacher. Very few achieved it, only two men won more than one championship during his reign.
    Schumacher has raced the very best drivers of the last two and a half decades. He raced Prost and Mansell, and for too tragically a short time, Aryton Senna. Famous names came and went during his career. Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Mika Hakkinen, Juan Montoya to name probably the most famous I can think of for now.
    To these modern drivers like Hamilton and Vettel, it must be surreal. It would be like a heavy weight boxer getting to go toe to toe with Ali for twelve rounds. It is as good as it gets.
    For Ferrari, it must hurt to see Schumacher go, but go he has gone. It is almost as if, in a funny way, Michael realised all those years ago that it would be a man like Fernando in his Ferrari one day. That it could not last forever.
    I am certainly not complaining, especially if Michael comes back with the same hunger and conviction as during his heyday. His biggest problem is reliability with his Mercedes. If it is anything like the 2009 Brawn Gp car, great! One thing is certain, I have serious doubts that the 2010 Ferraris’ and McLarens’ are going to be tomato cans, and then there is Red Bull, who many have overlooked.
    Ferrari achieved unprecedented greatness with Michael, they won five driver’s championships with him and numerous constructor’s crowns. It, if it were in football terms, would be like Manchester Utd fans watching Sir Alex Ferguson join Liverpool or Chelsea. Ofcourse it would hurt, especially if they are successful and you are not.
    Ferrari have a great pairing in Alonso and Massa. Both are very experienced, with a combined seventeen years in F1 between them. I don’t think the Scuderia will flounder, far from it!

  48. Schmidt says:

    Ferrari was Michael’s first choice to make a comeback. But Ferrari preferred Massa (schu’s lapdog)over Michael. That’s just outrageous.

    Ferrari are the real traitors.

    LdM’s quote, “Michael can drive with us as long as he wants to” proved to be a lie.

    I cant wait to see Michael win the grand prix of Italy in a Silver Arrow.

    - Schmidt

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