Preview: Schumacher No Longer Favourite

For most of his Formula One career, Michael Schumacher has arrived in Canada as a racing certainty

Preview: Schumacher No Longer Favourite

Not this time.
 
The Ferrari World Champion has not won a race since last October, has reaped a mere 16 points from seven Grands Prix so far this season and his hopes of an eighth crown have all but disappeared.

Sunday's race could herald the long-awaited Ferrari renaissance (and where better than at a track named after one of the best-loved Ferrari drivers?) but the 36-year-old German is making no predictions.

"I'd rather not," he said. "My predictions haven't been all that great lately."

Even though Schumacher has won for the last three years at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and a record seven times since his first appearance in Montreal in 1992 with Benetton, Ferrari's dominance has ebbed away.

Renault, McLaren, Toyota and Williams have been stronger so far and all have just as much if not more reason to hope for victory on Sunday.

Renault's young Spaniard Fernando Alonso, with four victories under his belt and a 32-point lead in the Championship over McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen and Toyota's Jarno Trulli, certainly fancies his chances.

"Every year I have been there with Renault, we have been quick in Montreal," said the 23-year-old. "With the R23 (in 2003) I set the fastest lap and with the R24 we were in a position to win.

"So with this year's car, there is no reason not to expect a podium or perhaps the victory, as long as we have no problems during the weekend.

"I am really confident the car will be competitive."

McLaren Determined

Raikkonen, thwarted at the last race at the Nurburgring when he flat-spotted a tyre and suffered a catastrophic suspension failure on the last lap while leading, needs to claw back some points and regain his momentum.

Had it not been for that failure, he would be arriving in Canada with three straight wins under his belt and Alonso no more than 20 points clear.

The Finn's European Grand Prix retirement means that he has the disadvantage of running early in qualifying on a little-used circuit that takes time to clean up even if it has been resurfaced since last year.

So too will Toyota's Ralf Schumacher, overshadowed by Italian Trulli so far this year, who won in Canada in 2001 with Williams but suffered his team's first retirement of the year at the Nurburgring.

Williams could be the ones to watch, if they can get their starts sorted out, as the season moves into low downforce, high power mode.

Germany's Nick Heidfeld has now had two second places in a row while Australian Mark Webber will feel at home at a circuit that reminds him of Melbourne and has favoured Williams in the past.

Former champion Jacques Villeneuve, son of Gilles but absent last year after being dropped by BAR, returns home with Sauber but with few expectations after slow performances in most of the last seven races.

The Canadian will also have to share the limelight with another North American in Friday practice when Californian Scott Speed makes his debut at a Grand Prix weekend in the third Red Bull.

"We will be watching his progress with interest," said team boss Christian Horner, who also welcomes back Austrian Christian Klien as a race driver alongside Briton David Coulthard.

"Scott is obviously the most promising talent to come out of the USA for some considerable time."

shares
comments
Lack of Budget Hurting Sauber
Previous article

Lack of Budget Hurting Sauber

Next article

Villeneuve's Montreal Press Conference

Villeneuve's Montreal Press Conference
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Plus

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Plus

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022