Sunday 24 September 2017

F1: Fittipaldi backs Schumacher

Emerson Fittipaldi insists Michael Schumacher can be a success on his Formula One comeback. Photo: Getty Images
Emerson Fittipaldi insists Michael Schumacher can be a success on his Formula One comeback. Photo: Getty Images

Phil Casey

Former world champion Emerson Fittipaldi insists Michael Schumacher can be a success on his Formula One comeback this season.

Schumacher retired at the end of 2006 after winning the drivers' title seven times, but has returned to the sport at the age of 41 with Mercedes.



Doubts have inevitably been raised about whether the German will be able to compete with the younger generation of F1 stars, including world champion Jenson Button and his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton.



But Fittipaldi believes Schumacher will prove the doubters wrong, even if it takes him a few races to get into the swing of things.



"If he is motivated to win, yes, I'm sure he can," said the 63-year-old Brazilian, speaking ahead of the Laureus Sports Awards in Abu Dhabi.



"He is physically fit. I know there are much younger drivers but as long as the motivation is there to compete he will be competitive.



"When I raced in America after Formula One my last win was when I was 49, and second was Jacques Villeneuve who was 21. I still had the desire to win and was very competitive.



"Michael has gone back to Mercedes, who used to be Brawn, and they were the world champions last year so they should be competitive. Michael will have great equipment this year.



"It's going to take two or three races for him to get used to driving in traffic again on a circuit, it's not like just testing on a circuit by yourself, it's a different rhythm.



"It will take two or three races and he will be at home."



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