MICHAEL Schumacher would love to see Sebastian Vettel join a highly-exclusive club and become a three-in-a-row Formula 1 world champion.
At present just two drivers have achieved the feat in the 62 years of the sport – Schumacher himself from 2000 to 2004 and fellow legend Juan Manuel Fangio from 1954 to 1957. Vettel goes into the season as a heavy favourite to win his third successive title after dominating the last two years. And as far as Schumacher is concerned, he would not begrudge the 24-year-old a place alongside himself and Fangio.
“Honestly, I’m very excited to see what Sebastian has achieved and will achieve in the future,” said Schumacher, 19 years older than his fellow German. “He is a good friend of mine I’ve known for so long. I supported him in his early days, and actually I’m very proud of him.”
It promises to be a pivotal year for Schumacher, with team boss Ross Brawn stating a successful season for the team will likely lead to the 43-year-old signing a new contract. Schumacher is certainly not giving up on his dream of winning an eighth world title. “We have our target, which is to make Mercedes a champion in the future,” said Schumacher, who hasn’t made the podium in 38 races since his return two years ago. “That’s what we’re all working hard for and why I came back, and obviously I wish to achieve that.”
The car certainly looked solid and planted in yesterday’s practice sessions in Melbourne. The W03 is assisted by a new radical wing system deemed legal by the FIA, with technical head Charlie Whiting claiming the device is “completely passive” in that there are no moving parts which would otherwise have led to it being banned. Operating in a similar way to the F-duct of two years ago, the rear wing is stalled, which allows greater straight line speed.