Fernando Alonso expects Michael Schumacher to be F1 title threat

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso reckons Michael Schumacher could be his biggest threat in the 2011 Formula One season despite the German's struggles on his comeback with Mercedes last year.

Sporting a three musketeer-like beard, a swashbuckling Alonso came out fighting in his first news conference of the year and has overcome the disappointment at missing out on last year's title after a strategy error at the Abu Dhabi finale.



The 2005 and 2006 champion surprised the packed auditorium of journalists from around the world on Thursday when he singled out 42-year-old Schumacher as his main early rival.



"There will be five world champions on the track and the most dangerous champion for me is always Michael," he said.



"Now in January if I have to choose one name I have to say Michael. He is seven-times champion. He has nothing to prove. He had a difficult season but he is still a champion. He is still super class and if the car is right he will be a contender."



Schumacher, who finished ninth last year in his first season since retiring at the end of 2006, will be joined on the grid by Alonso and current title holder Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull and McLaren's two former champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.



Vettel remains a clear threat but Alonso hopes team mate Felipe Massa can improve on his sixth place last season.



"Hopefully our car is better than the others and my toughest rival next year is Felipe," Alonso said on Ferrari's ski trip.



"No doubt Sebastian will be a contender. He will have experience and will be calm in certain moments. He will drive better than last year and that makes him dangerous to us. McLaren will also be one of the favourites."



F1 will hold a record 20 races this year and Alonso thinks physical and mental fitness will be crucial, especially given the restrictions on testing which he wants relaxed.



"I like 20 races, I like racing, competing so to have more races is welcome," he smiled. "But I also like testing so I'd like 20 races and more testing. It's not easy and it's unfair for new drivers that they cannot test more."



Pat Fry, known to Alonso from the driver's unhappy time at McLaren, has taken over as Ferrari's head of race track engineering after Chris Dyer was moved aside following the Abu Dhabi pitstop debacle.



The Spaniard has found positives from the painful episode.



"When you succeed the emotions, feelings don't make you think of the general view of what happened. When you don't succeed, you look into the details," added Alonso, who wants a race on whatever vehicle with MotoGP's Valentino Rossi.



Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
News
i100
Life and Style
Great minds like Einstein don't think alike
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power