Atlas F1 News Service
Schumacher Vows Not to Become Complacent

Tuesday April 18th, 2000

Michael Schumacher has vowed not to become complacent despite winning the first three races of the season.

Schumacher told the Press Assocation he will not let up until the Championship is on its way to Maranello for the first time since 1979.

"I have been around long enough to know the game is not over yet," said Schumacher, who leads Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello by 21 points in the championship standings. "I have seen it many times the other way around so I believe I am prepared.

"In 1998 I came from 22 points behind to take it to the final race. The game is over once I have mathematically won the championship. Until then you never know what can happen."

After signing with Ferrari in 1996 in a bid to return Championship glory to the team, having just won back to back titles in 1994 and 1995 with Benetton, Schumacher admits it would be a relief to win the Championship with Ferrari.

"Since the day I signed for Ferrari it has been my challenge, my target to win the title for them," said the 31-year-old.

"It is now the fifth year we are fighting so it will be a big relief if we can finally do it, though I believe the team should have got the title earlier because they deserved it.

"It will be completely different to winning the title for the first time. It is like victories. It is hard to compare them.

"I have had victories that look very similar, but emotion-wise they are different."

Schumacher's early season form is similar to that which took him to his first Championship in 1994, a season which saw Senna's death at Imola and ended in controversial fashion with a collision with Damon Hill at the final race.

"I had a strange season in 1994 and took a lot of memories from that," added Schumacher, who admitted his large points gap over his McLaren rivals is a surprise.

World champion Mika Hakkinen, who has led all three races so far, is 24 points behind, while McLaren teammate David Coulthard is another two points further back.

He added: "I didn't expect such a big lead this year. I am very surprised at McLaren. We seem to have the speed and the reliability.

"I am not saying we are better but we are making the maximum out of our opportunities.

"But whatever sport you do if it is on such a high-profile your victory lasts only to the next event. If I am going to lose next week then we won't be happy so we will approach it determined to win.

"Our car has now been competitive in three different circumstances so I don't see any reason why we shouldn't be competitive at Silverstone.

"As we have seen in Imola it is such a tight fight and battle. It went our way at Imola, but it doesn't mean it will go my way next time.

"With the margin that I have if it doesn't go my way and I score say six points I believe I will have enough reasons to be happy."

Despite the accident he had at Silverstone last year, in which he suffered a broken leg after brake failure sent him crashing into the tyre wall, and a testing accident last week where Ricardo Zonta crashed at high speed at the same corner, Schumacher has no fears about returning to Silverstone. He did however call for further improvements to safety following Zonta's accident which saw Zonta's car finish in an area just metres from where spectators will watch the Grand Prix this Sunday.

To many people, it would seem only a similar accident can stop Schumacher writing his name in the record books and becoming Ferrari's first World Champion in over twenty years.

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