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Schumacher tips Renault, BMW to shine

Seven-time Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher believes Renault and BMW can improve this season and threaten Ferrari and McLaren at the top of the sport

Fernando Alonso has quit McLaren to return to Renault, who struggled last year having powered the Spaniard to the title in 2005 and 2006. BMW finished second last season after McLaren were stripped of their constructor points in a spy scandal.

"I would expect to see a very close fight between the two main teams but then I would see Renault and BMW able to close the gap and they may enter into the top two," the Ferrari consultant told reporters on Friday at the team's ski retreat.

The German also said Honda's recruitment of former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn was a step forward.

"Ross is the perfect man to make Honda come back in the right direction because he is very capable. But it will take time," he said. Schumacher, who quit Formula One following the 2006 season after winning 91 Grands Prix in the most successful career of any driver, came out of retirement to test with Ferrari at Barcelona and Jerez late last year.

The 39-year-old said he would probably test again before the season opener in Melbourne on March 16 but again ruled out competing in Formula One even if Kimi Raikkonen or Felipe Massa were ever unavailable for Ferrari.

"It is pretty sure that at one stage I will go out in the car. If the team wants and it is not too much, then I'm happy to do this. It is probably more likely and makes more sense before the championship starts," he said before reacting with a blunt 'No' when asked if he would ever race again.

"I will come to some of the races, mainly European races. I don't like to travel too much," he added.

Former sporting director Stefano Domenicali has become Ferrari team boss for this season with Jean Todt stepping back to be chief executive of the overall company. Schumacher said the switch was positive.

"All the changes that have happened in the end have kept the group strong. I don't think they will weaken Ferrari they will improve the situation overall," he said.

"Stefano is very experienced...and on top of that anyway he will have Jean at his side to support him anytime he needs."

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