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F1 title push starts at Imola, says Schumacher

Written by: Staff

LONDON, Apr 13 (Reuters) Ferrari's Formula One title challenge will start for real at Imola next week, according to Michael Schumacher.

''We are full of hope,'' the seven times champion told the Ferrari website.

''Last week's tests went according to plan and this is always a good sign in our sport. Things are fine in the team; everyone is pulling in the right direction and we all want to win.

''The beginning of the European season should coincide with the start of our drive for the world title,'' added the 37-year-old German.

Schumacher has yet to win this season after three long-haul races, with his only podium a second place at Bahrain. He finished sixth in Malaysia and crashed at the Australian Grand Prix.

The most successful driver in Formula One history is fourth in the standings, 17 points adrift of Renault's 24-year-old world champion Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard beat Schumacher into second place in last year's San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, a circuit named after the Italian glamour team's late founder Enzo and the nearest on the calendar to Ferrari's Maranello factory.

''We are certain that we are in better shape than may appear from the outside,'' said Schumacher. ''The potential is there, now we have to improve even more and be consistent..

''At Imola there will be many new features that we are testing at the moment.'' REUTERS PDS PM2129

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