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Schumacher buoyant, Alonso not so

NEWS STORY
16/03/2012

Mat Coch writes:

A quietly confident Michael Schumacher is playing down his team's chances of a strong result in Melbourne after a solid opening day. The German topped the afternoon proceedings, having recorded the third fastest time in the season's opening practice session.

"It's one thing being at the top and the second thing is feeling the car positive," Schumacher told reporters. "We don't know what fuel people were running in comparison to us. (The gap) could be very big, still but it's good to be where we are compared to the others."

Mercedes has featured heavily among the list of favourites, along with usual suspects Red Bull and McLaren. Questions are being asked of Ferrari however, with Fernando Alonso stating Melbourne won't favour his car.

"With the feeling with the car, the first impressions with the car, it should be not our favourite track," he mused. The Spaniard was clearly pushing during practice, sliding the Ferrari in the mixed conditions.

"I was not sleeping," he joked. "The conditions were difficult, it was damp in some of the corners and also we came from intermediate tyres.
"The feeling was okay; good answers and good feeling driving the car. But I also had that in Jerez and Barcelona…"

A difficult pre-season and critical comments from the team's management have led many to write Ferrari off. Alonso however, refuses to rule himself out as one of the favourites. "The favourites are still always the top teams; Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes," he said, though warned that others may be capable of springing a surprise. "Sauber is an interesting team in these first races. Force India went quite quickly today but I guess McLaren, Red Bull should be the (favourites)."

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