DC: Schumacher to shock youngsters

David Coulthard has warned Formula 1's younger generation of drivers that they may be surprised at veteran Michael Schumacher's ruthlessness on track when he makes his comeback this year

DC: Schumacher to shock youngsters

The Scotsman had several clashes with Schumacher during their time racing together, and he thinks the seven-time champion's tough tactics in racing wheel-to-wheel could be an eye opener for some of those who have come into the sport recently.

When asked on the main stage at the AUTOSPORT International show in Birmingham if Schumacher could be surprised at the speed of some of F1's new generation, Coulthard said: "Well, Michael is an incredible champion in F1. He has won 90-odd grands prix and seven world championships. So I would be surprised if he is surprised that F1 is difficult.

"I actually think it will be more the other way. I think the young generation will be surprised just how ruthless Michael can be to achieve his goals. That is the thing I am curious to see - does he still have that last little killer instinct that made Michael such a dominant force in F1 before?"

Coulthard admitted he is going to be fascinated to see how Schumacher copes on his return - having said he never expected the German to return to F1 after he quit at the end of 2006.

"I am surprised," he explained. "Three years out of F1. He has been off doing motorbikes and all sorts of other things, but to come back and sign a three-year contract to comeback at 41 years old - that is tremendously exciting for motorsport in general.

"He is a great champion, seven world championships, and he is a generation ago. Now he is coming back and mixing with all these young guys in their young twenties. I think it is fulfilling for guys like Lewis Hamilton who never had the chance to go wheel-to-wheel with Michael.

"And however tough Michael has been in the past, there is nothing quite like trying to argue over the apex with Schumacher because he defined the whole new era of motor racing.

"So I am curious to know will he be as aggressive and ultimately as quick as he was in the main part of his first career."

He added: "There is no question that none of us can hold back time and, at 41, physically he cannot be as strong and as fit and as sharp as he was when he was 21. But the great debate will be, what is it that makes a fantastic F1 driver? Is it the fitness? Or is it the intuitive ability to hang the car out on the limit? It is a real opportunity for us all to have a real life experiment to see just how good he is."

Coulthard also thinks that Schumacher could have an early-season advantage from the banning of refuelling - being one of only two grand prix drivers in the field who has raced without the need to refuel.

"He has a lot of experience of having to be able to drive with a heavy car," said Coulthard. "If you go all the way back to sportscars when he was with Mercedes, that was really how he developed himself before coming to F1 with Jordan. At the same time I think it will be an advantage, but great drivers adapt and I think it will be a short-lived advantage.

"Ultimately the season will be down to car performance, driver performance and all the things we want to see out on track. And at the end of the year, hopefully we will be looking at the Castrol Rankings and say, you know what, Schumacher was in the overall rankings, or he was first in the overall rankings. It is going to be interesting to see how the season develops."

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