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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 September 2006, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Schumacher tops F1 supporter poll
Michael Schumacher celebrates his win at the recent Italian Grand Prix
Schumacher's career has been dogged by controversy
Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher is four times more popular with Formula One fans than title rival Fernando Alonso, according to a survey.

The poll, carried out on behalf of governing body the FIA, has the Ferrari star on 28%, with Alonso fourth on 7%.

Finland's Kimi Raikkonen was second and Britain's Jenson Button third.

In other findings, 66% of respondents liked the reintroduction of tyre changes and 73% said the new knockout qualifying format was an improvement.

Just over half (51%) are watching more qualifying as a result.

One of the main findings was that 88% of fans want more emphasis to be put on driver skill and less on driver aids, although 91% think F1 is an important showcase for technology.

We recognise their view that technology is important but that the right balance with driver skill must be achieved

FIA president Max Mosley

And 86% believe improving overtaking remains the most important element of racing to be improved for the fans.

Schumacher, the most successful F1 driver with 90 race wins, remains massively popular with fans despite a string of controversies in his career.

The 37-year German, just two points behind reigning champion Alonso in this year's standings, recently announced that he would retire at the end of the season.

The survey, which was conducted by an independent research analyst, produced 91,000 responses from fans in 180 countries.

"Our message to the Formula One fans who have taken the time to complete this year's survey is very simple - thank you," said FIA president Max Mosley.

"We have listened to all your views and we are committed to working with the teams and the other Formula One stakeholders to help improve our sport for all involved.

"We recognise their view that technology is important but that the right balance with driver skill must be achieved and that improving car design to encourage overtaking must be one of our priorities."

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