Ferrari boss backs adviser Schumacher

April 24th, 2009 - 10:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Sakhir (Bahrain), April 24 (DPA) Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali Friday backed record Formula One champion Michael Schumacher as “part of our team” following criticism of the German’s advisory role.
Schumacher, who retired in 2006 after winning seven championship titles, had come under fire from former world champion Niki Lauda and others for the team’s failed strategies in the opening two races of the season.

Schumacher did not attend last week’s Chinese Grand Prix when Ferrari was again out of the points, and was not planning to be at the Bahrain Grand Prix Sunday.

However, his presence had never been planned at either of the races.

“Schumacher is part of our team. I cannot say anything negative,” Domenicali said in Sakhir after Friday’s first free practice.

Schumacher, whose advisory role expires at the end of the season, told German Press Agency (DPA) this week that the Ferrari lacks speed and reliability, and admitted he had to be included in the blame for some tactical mistakes committed on the first races.

“Of course, the situation doesn’t look good at the moment, but the gaps are not that big that it wouldn’t allow the team to establish itself in the upper tiers again,” he said.

Schumacher said that part of his advisor job was to see how these issues can be improved in the future, which includes the difficult decision of possibly having to be content with a poor season for the sake of early 2010 developments.

“At some stage you must think about what you want to do, where you want to go… It is not us alone. Other teams are in the same situation. It will be one of my tasks to be advise in this area,” Schumacher told DPA.

There was no sign in Friday’s practice session of an improvement in Ferrari’s fortunes. The 2007 and 2008 Bahrain winner Felipe Massa was 16th in the second session after coming eighth in the morning.

Kimi Raikkonen was 10th and 18th in the other Ferrari in the 20-car field.

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