F1: Ecclestone worry over Schumacher road rage
Published 09/03/2010 | 05:00
BEWARE the angry man in the silver car because Michael Schumacher could bring a new meaning to road rage in Formula One.
Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's commercial rights-holder, does not believe the seven-times world champion will be in the mix for victory when the new season opens in Bahrain on Sunday.
But that could spell trouble. Schumacher has never had a reputation as a patient man and Ecclestone is concerned that the German's frustration at having to race among the pack could boil over into the sort of spectacular confrontation that marked his early career.
"There are a lot of drivers in with a chance this season," Ecclestone said. "Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and I think Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull looks very good. But, at the moment, we don't know what sort of car Michael has got and it seems he might not be at the front. We all know what he is like when things don't go his way and he might run out of patience if he finds himself stuck in the middle."
Schumacher flailing away at David Coulthard's helmeted head at the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix was one of his more memorable flare-ups and his aggression on the track has been felt all the way from Damon Hill in 1994 to Alonso in 2006, the season when Schumacher retired. But the 41-year-old shows no sign of relenting on his comeback.
He stated he is in the World Championship to win it with his new Mercedes GP team. "This is what I am here for, and I am confident we can play a role," he said. "If we win it at the end will be a different question, as always in sports. But our team is extremely motivated.
"The season will be long and hard but I love this fight. It is because of this fight that I came back to Formula One. I said it quite clear from the beginning that we do not have to -- and probably will not -- be in the position to win." (© The Times, London)