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Culture

Who Can Break Schumacher's Grip on F1?

The 2005 Formula One season looms large with winter training already underway. Last season was another record breaking campaign for a certain German driver and the question remains, can anyone beat Michael Schumacher?

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Michael Schumacher in a predictably victorious pose

It only seems like yesterday that Michael Schumacher was lifting his seventh World Championship trophy and bringing the Formula One season to another somewhat predictable close. It was, in fact, way back in August when the all-conquering German extended his record-breaking run of championship titles.

Now, in December, it’s already pre-season winter testing time and the first chances for those drivers who have swapped teams for 2005 to try out their new cars. Some of them have already made their debuts at a recent test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.

But will it all be ultimately futile? The 2004 Formula One season, like so many in recent years was about one man -- Michael Schumacher.

If the unprecedented seventh world title wasn’t impressive enough, the way he won it must surely rate as one of the most outstanding achievements in the modern racing era. Schumacher’s statistics from last season speak for themselves -- 13 wins in 18 starts including seven consecutive victories.

Not surprisingly perhaps, Schumacher was recently voted German sports star of the 20th century. Now as thoughts turn to the 2005 season, yet again the question is... will it be Schumacher and Ferrari again or there someone in the chasing pack capable of beating him?

Schumacher gunning for eighth title

Formel 1 Michael Schumacher in Schanghai

The Ferrari of Schumacher is the car to catch.

“We very much hope someone can. He’s going for an eighth title in 2005, which is obviously beyond record…he’s a record breaker, he’s certainly going to be gunning for that,” Oliver Peagam, executive editor of F1 Racing magazine told DW-Radio.

“Having said that, the other teams are probably getting a bit angry about the fact that he’s walking away with it every season so they’ll be doing their very best to stop him from winning his eighth title

But there will be some changes next year. Ralf Schumacher, Michael’s brother, has switched from Williams to Toyota and Oliver Peagam believes there will also be an interesting combination at McLaren.

McLaren firebrands pose a challenge

Kimi Raikkonen gwinnt den Grand Prix von Malaysia

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen won his first Grand Prix in Malaysia last season.

“There are a lot of changes happening next year, McLaren for example have a bit of a dream team in Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen (photo),” Peagam said. “That’s really going to be a very interesting driver combination to look out for…very much in the mould of (Ayrton) Senna and (Alain) Prost …these are two feisty types, especially Montoya, so it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out next season.

The first indications of next season’s performances have come in the pre-season testing in Barcelona. McLaren’s Juan Pablo Montoya clocked the fastest time and he was followed by Ralph Schumacher in his Toyota. So who’s most likely to give Michael Schumacher and Ferrari a run for their money?

No outright pretender to the throne...as yet

Fernando Alonso

Renault's Fernando Alonso won the Hungarian Grand Prix in August.

“I think McLaren will be up there, I think Renault with Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso (photo) will be up there, then there’s BAR with Jenson Button and Takuma Sato will be a threat. I think these are the teams to look out for,” Peagam mused. “But as I said, no-one’s really stopping Schumacher at the moment so it’ll be interesting to see who finally breaks his strangle hold on Formula One”

Even for drivers with new engines and different teams, it seems that Michael Schumacher will yet again be the man to beat.

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