Ferrari Aiming At Schumacher

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SHAKING THE RUST OFF: Michael Schumacher shook down a GP2 car last week for three days at Circuito de Jerez in Spain. The former Ferrari driver will return to action this year for Mercedes GP. (Mercedes GP Photo)

SHAKING THE RUST OFF: Michael Schumacher shook down a GP2 car last week for three days at Circuito de Jerez in Spain. The former Ferrari driver will return to action this year for Mercedes GP. (Mercedes GP Photo)

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Michael Schumacher is no longer a member of the family, and now Ferrari want to defeat him.

“Of course, it is right not to forget that what has happened has left its mark,” Ferrari’s team principal Stefano Domenicali said of Schumacher’s defection from Ferrari to Mercedes. “Now we have to turn the page. We have to show Michael that this is a strong team. We want to win.”

“From a personal point of view it was a little bit sad, because we felt Michael was part of our family,” Domenicali added. “He did a fantastic period with us and we don’t have to forget that. But now we need to consider him as a competitor.”

Domenicali pointed out that Fernando Alonso is the only current driver to defeat Schumacher for the world championship laurels. And Domenicali is convinced that Alonso, Felipe Massa and Ferrari can vanquish Schumacher, especially now that he switched camps to the Silver Arrows.

“For the whole team his decision is a further stimulus,” Domenicali said.

Schumacher used his traditional red helmet when he tested a GP2 car last week.

“Seeing him…with the red helmet he wore when he was with us, it seems that also he has some difficulties drawing a line under the past,” Domenicali rued.

McLaren has reshuffled its engineering department to insure that Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button get equal treatment.

“When Jenson visited McLaren’s Technology Center, one of the questions he asked was, ‘Is this Lewis’s team?’” said McLaren’s managing director Jonathan Neale. “And the answer was ‘Yes, of course it’s Lewis’s team…as it was Heikki Kovalainen’s team, Fernando Alonso’s team, Juan Pablo Montoya’s, and Kimi Raikkonen’s. And it will be your team as well.”

Phil Prew, Hamilton’s race engineer for the past few years, now becomes the team’s principal race engineer. He will manage the set-up, development, and sharing of data and information between both drivers’ race engineering teams.

Michael Schumacher prepared for his F-1 return by testing a GP2 car for three days at Jerez last week. He completed a total of 715 miles, and his fastest lap time was .4 of a second slower than the GP2 lap record at the track.

Bernie Ecclestone says the F-1 show would be nicely spiced up if drivers could use shortcuts to pass.

“Imagine a shortcut which a driver can use five times every race,” he said. “It would stop people getting stuck behind others. It would be good for TV.”

It’s not going to happen. This is just a typical Ecclestone outlandish statement designed to give F-1 some publicity and get people thinking about more sensible ideas to improve the show.
The teams will discuss the several proposals, including tweaking the new points system, which rewards the top 10 drivers rather than the top eight, so that there is a wider gap between first and second.

With no refueling permitted during the races this year, and with all cars qualifying on light fuel loads, there are genuine concerns that the races will become too processional. One idea is to have the drivers start the race on the same set of tires they used in qualifying, which would mean that those who gridded higher on the soft tire would have to pit before those who started further back on the harder compound.

It’s been revealed that Brawn-Mercedes and McLaren blocked Red Bull’s quest to switch to Mercedes engines in 2010.

Virgin Racing has undergone a management upheaval even before its new car runs for the first time as John Booth replaces Alex Tai as team principal. Booth, founder of Manor Motorsport, which filed the team’s original F-1 entry with the FIA, was previously the sporting director of the new squad. Graeme Lowdon, formerly the director of racing, is now the team’s CEO.

It’s strange that Tai held the post for only one month. There seem to be a lot of bosses in the team. How much say does the Virgin Group have in the running of the team? National Speed Sport News understands that while Virgin helped pay for the team’s start up costs it does not own any equity in it. So why was Virgin executive Tai running the team for a while?

It’s known that the Lloyds Banking Group bought a share of the team, but the other two entities that are said to be shareholders are keeping a very low profile.