Grapevine: Ferrari Army Keep the Faith at Monza

The Ferrari fans were out in force on Friday, confident that Michael Schumacher will find his form again at the Italian Grand Prix and pick up crucial points to keep him on track for a record sixth crown.

Grapevine: Ferrari Army Keep the Faith at Monza

The Ferrari fans were out in force on Friday, confident that Michael Schumacher will find his form again at the Italian Grand Prix and pick up crucial points to keep him on track for a record sixth crown.

At the last two Monza races, the German started with the Championship won. This year he has a precarious one point lead, has been lapped in his last two outings and also lampooned in the Italian press. But, he can still count on the unquestioning loyalty of the Ferrari Army.

"It's definitely more critical this year but we're going to win. It's our home turf and Schumacher will come good," said Gianni Cerisi, as his son Francesco, clad head-to-toe in red, nodded in agreement. It is that sort of faith the 34-year-old driver himself acknowledges might give him an edge on Sunday.

"Obviously this is a special event for us. We are determined to perform really well, especially for the tifosi (fans). But this time, we need their support," said Schumacher of the fact that Williams now lead the Constructors' Championship while Juan Pablo Montoya is just a point adrift in the drivers' competition.

Schumacher has had a terrible run since June, when he won his last race in Canada, finishing only once on the podium when he grabbed third in France. He has also not been on pole since May.

The sport has also been dogged with a controversial debate over the legality of tyres but the Italian fans just want the championship to get back on track.

"There should be no doubts now about whether the Michelin ones are illegal and now it comes down to the drivers and we'll win that battle," said Alessandro Ciambrone, a 28-year-old factory worker, a flag wrapped around his waist.

"It all got a bit whipped up. A storm in a teacup. Hopefully we can get back to racing now," Ferrari fan Emanuele Zappa said.

With the home crowd behind them Ferrari completed a one-two after the first free practice session on Friday with Rubens Barrichello clocking the fastest lap, while Schumacher, hinting he could be about to end his bad run, was close behind.

But, even if Schumacher fails to win on Sunday the tifosi can take some consolation out of the race. Only once in the last 12 seasons has the winner at Monza been that year's World Champion - a feat the German accomplished in 2000.

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