Timothy Collings' Belgian GP Preview

Michael Schumacher heads into Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix on his favourite circuit fighting to regain rather than retain his world championship lead.

Timothy Collings' Belgian GP Preview

Michael Schumacher heads into Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix on his favourite circuit fighting to regain rather than retain his world championship lead.

Mika Hakkinen overhauled Schumacher at the head of the standings with his win in Hungary two weeks ago, the first time the German had been toppled from top spot all season.

Schumacher has played down the significance of his next battle with his McLaren rival and does not believe the outcome on the sweeping Ardennes circuit will prove to be decisive in the title chase.

"There's still a long way to go. I have said this quite often but this is how I see it. Nothing is decided yet," said the Ferrari driver, who achieved a hat-trick of Belgian victories between 1995 and 1997.

Schumacher admitted he was concerned at the difference in positions between the pair - he has gone from two points ahead to two behind in one race.

"In the past there were times we would have been happy to be only two points behind. Now we are obviously not very happy after being in front, but what can you do?"

Schumacher made no comment on reports suggesting that Ferrari have made a massive offer to lure McLaren's technical director Adrian Newey to Maranello.

Several Formula One websites have said Ferrari are ready to pay Newey $36 million for a three-year contract.

A McLaren source was quoted as saying: "They certainly made him an offer last year and it's not hard to imagine them doing so again, although I don't know about the figures.

"One way of looking at it is that Michael guarantees you one car at the front, but Adrian guarantees you two."

"Everybody likes money, but whether Adrian would be prepared to go to Italy is a different question."

Hakkinen said: "There is no doubt that I'm looking forward to this race. It's nice to be leading the championship but I'm focusing on this weekend's grand prix.

"I spent two days testing at Silverstone last week where we hoped it would rain so we could get in some wet-weather running before Spa. Unfortunately it stayed sunny but we're in good shape for the race.

"There are plenty of overtaking opportunities on the track but hopefully I will not need them."

His teammate David Coulthard is six points behind but said that a repeat of his triumph last year, when he led the Finn home in a McLaren one-two, would put him back in the title frame.

"I like this track and it's a real challenge as you have to work really hard all the time," Coulthard said.

"When you are comfortable in the car and manage to get a lap just right it's a fantastic feeling. I'm feeling confident and I hope I can make it two in a row."

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