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Alonso Still Favourite, Says Schumacher

World Champion Michael Schumacher believes Ferrari are heading to this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix rejuvenated after their strong showing at San Marino, but he is under no illusions that arch rival Fernando Alonso remains favourite for victory

Schumacher's stunning form at Imola, where he was able to lap two seconds per lap quicker than the opposition during periods of the race, gave the firmest indication that Ferrari have resolved the problems that marred the beginning to their campaign.

But despite having the pace to out-class Renault, Schumacher believes that it is still too early to believe that Ferrari have emerged as the fastest team in Formula One.

"The San Marino Grand Prix was soothing for our souls," said Schumacher on Monday. "When we ran in Bahrain we had already seen that the direction was correct, but in Imola we were really in the hunt for a victory.

"That gives us hope and courage for the next phase of the season, and has given our motivation a renewed thrust. During the early part of the season we did not talk badly about the team, and the achievement of Imola has proved us right."

Looking ahead to the Spanish Grand Prix, which is set to have an added edge because it is Alonso's home race, Schumacher is predicting a close fight at the front of the field.

"For me Fernando remains the favourite," he added. "That's because we saw in Imola an impressive achievement - that he won three consecutive races and has a good lead in the World Championship.

"I think however that also McLaren-Mercedes and BAR will be strong and I assume that we will experience a close race in Barcelona. I am counting firmly on the fact, however, that we will naturally be in the shout for a victory."

Schumacher's build-up to the Spanish Grand Prix includes him adding his support to a new road-safety campaign from the FIA on Thursday afternoon, prior to a football match for Ferrari sponsor Vodafone.

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