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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
Schumi has China flaw - Renault
Chinese Grand Prix, Sunday, 1 October 0700 BST

Fernando Alonso leads Michael Schumacher during the Turkish Grand Prix last month
Schumacher is breathing down Alonso's neck in the title chase
Renault hope Michael Schumacher's unease at the Chinese Grand Prix will help them regain their title momentum.

Renault's Fernando Alonso won in China last year, while Schumacher has struggled on the Shanghai track at both races staged there so far.

"Shanghai is a good track for Renault," said engineering boss Pat Symonds.

"But it may be more significant that Michael Schumacher had two poor races there in 2004 and 2005. That trend could continue this year."

Symonds said that Schumacher had shown several times in his career that he was vulnerable to pressure.

It is true that this race has not been the best for me but I expect it to be better this time around

Michael Schumacher
"It goes without saying that they are both fabulous drivers and formidable competitors, but I truly do believe that Fernando handles pressure better than Michael," said Symonds, who worked with Schumacher at Benetton from 1991-1995.

"Throughout his career, there have been many instances of Michael not performing to his potential when he has been under pressure. And I think the pressure for him is greater than ever in these last three races.

"Previously, he always had the safety net of trying again next year, if he didn't win. There is no 'next year' for him now."

Schumacher, who cut Alonso's lead down to just two points with victory at the Italian Grand Prix on 10 September, countered: "It is true that this race has not been the best for me but Rubens [Barrichello, his former team-mate] won the first race there so that shows that our car is fine on the track

"I expect it to be better this time around and I am looking forward to this fight in the last few races. I have a two-point gap and that can be bridged."

Ferrari's revival means Alonso has now not won since June, but Symonds denied that Renault were a "spent force" in the championship.

Fernando Alonso
We know we have the performance to win races, and we need to make it happen

Fernando Alonso
And although he admitted the momentum was now with Ferrari, he said Renault were confident they could rediscover their form.

Alonso said he was trying to forget the pressure on him heading into the final three races of the season - and his last Grands Prix with Renault before his move to McLaren for 2007.

"I have the opinion that stress is not useful," Alonso said. "We have to do our job, and I must do 100% with the team.

"If we do that job well and we deserve the title, then we will win. The important thing in the next races is to give the maximum to the team.

"We always knew that it would be very tight at the end of the championship, and I was prepared for this.

"At Renault we were ready for the opening races, and totally competitive: maybe we started at 95% of our maximum, while the others were at 70%.

"Now, everybody is at 98% or 99% and the performance is very, very close.

"We know we have the performance to win races, and we need to make it happen."

SEE ALSO
Alonso furore prompts F1 U-turn
15 Sep 06 |  Formula One
Schumi 'had no pressure to quit'
13 Sep 06 |  Formula One
Alonso launches Schumacher attack
12 Sep 06 |  Formula One
Briatore backtracks on fix slur
11 Sep 06 |  Formula One
Ferrari bullish for final F1 push
11 Sep 06 |  Formula One
Alonso defiant despite title blow
10 Sep 06 |  Formula One
Schumacher win boosts title hopes
10 Sep 06 |  Formula One


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