The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Schumi, Rossi struggle to maintain image
- For both racers, reputation is on the line

Paris: Twelve months ago Michael Schumacher and Valentino Rossi were on top of the world.

Schumacher had wrapped up his fifth Formula One world title with half of the season remaining while Rossi was about to pick up his second successive world motorcycling crown with four races to spare.

However, both men are spending their mid-summer breaks this year with their reputations on the line as a long list of pretenders come snapping at their heels.

Schumacher still leads the championship in his Ferrari, but his lead is just six points from Williams ace Juan Pablo Montoya while, on two wheels, Rossi has seen his lead slashed. The Honda star has gone four races without a win; Schumacher’s winning drought now stands at five rounds.

“You can’t really say we’re having a crisis but I’m not exactly pleased about Williams’ dominance and at this point I’m not very optimistic,” said Schumacher who was running second at the German Grand Prix last weekend before a puncture relegated him to seventh.

Schumacher enjoyed a 23-point lead over Montoya after his last win in Canada in June.

On two wheels, Rossi is having similar problems in maintaining his image of invincibility. His last win came on home soil in Italy, but since then Spain’s Sete Gibernau, also on a Honda, has emerged as a title rival with seven rounds left.

Rossi is also making uncharacteristic mistakes.

At the British Grand Prix, he was stripped of victory for overtaking under yellow flags while at the last race in Germany, he ran wide on the last bend to hand victory to Gibernau. “I don’t understand why I went inside to close the line. I thought Sete may go through that way and that was my mistake,” said Rossi reliving his Sachsenring nightmare.

“Sometimes this year I have been unlucky with the weather or the rules. Today I just made a mistake.”

There have also been distractions over Rossi’s future with a move to Ducati widley rumoured. “It would be a dream ride with Ducati,” admitted the 24-year-old whose contract with Honda runs out next year. “We are talking to everybody.” (AFP)

Email This Page