Ferrari's Fernando Alonso reckons Michael Schumacher could be his biggest threat in the 2011 Formula One season despite the German's struggles on his comeback with Mercedes last year. Alonso in his first news conference of the year said that he has overcome the disappointment at missing out on last year's title after a strategy error at the Abu Dhabi finale.
The 2005 and 2006 champion surprised everybody on Thursday when he singled out 42-year-old Schumacher as his main early rival. “There will be five world champions on the track and the most dangerous champion for me is always Michael,” he said.
“Now in January if I have to choose one name I have to say Michael. He is seven-times champion. He has nothing to prove. He had a difficult season but he is still a champion.”
Schumacher, who finished ninth last year in his first season since retiring at the end of 2006, will be joined on the grid by Alonso and current title holder Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull and McLaren's two former champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Vettel remains a clear threat but Alonso hopes team mate Felipe Massa can improve on his sixth place last season.
“No doubt Sebastian will be a contender. He will have experience and will be calm in certain moments. He will drive better than last year and that makes him dangerous to us. McLaren will also be one of the favourites.” F1 will hold a record 20 races this year and Alonso thinks physical and mental fitness will be crucial.
Massa struggling with his buttons Ferrari's Felipe Massa cannot afford to comfort eat after his disappointing 2010 season as he believes his slight frame could be his biggest advantage in this Formula One season.
The Brazilian, who trailed home sixth last year, reckons innovations in the sport partly aimed at increasing overtaking mean a low body weight could be extra important. “Every kilo is important in 2011. Fortunately I'm may be the lightest Formula One driver,” he said.
The only downside of this year's new gadgets, such as the unfamiliar moveable rear wing and the return of the KERS energy recovery system which gives a boost of speed, is the increase in the number of buttons on the steering wheel.
Rome's hopes of hosting F1 gp fade
Rome's hopes of holding a Formula One grand prix through the streets of the EUR district from 2013 are fading rapidly. Italy already hosts the popular Monza grand prix and La Repubblica newspaper has published a letter from F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone saying no one wanted two races in the same country. Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno, who wanted his city's event as well as a Monza grand prix, told reporters: “If there must be a choice between the two races we will take a step back.”
Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali has said that with 20 races now on the global calendar including newcomers India, there is no room for two in the same country.