Schumacher ‘astonished’ by F1 rule changes

Schumacher watches preparations for the new season at close hand in Barcelona.
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher says he is "astonished" by the swift introduction of new rules to decide the Formula One drivers title by the number of race wins.

The former Ferrari star is also skeptical that the last-minute changes will benefit motorsport’s most prestigious category. “I cannot imagine those changes to help F1, especially regarding the new system to find the champion,” he told his personal Web site “I cannot see how it makes sense to eventually have a world champion who has less points than the driver coming in second, even if I also think it is a good move to try to strengthen the winner’s position.” Schumacher said that it was difficult to predict who would be the dominant force in the new season that starts in Australia on March 29, which added to the sense of anticipation. “I doubt the same goes for the new rules given out on such a late moment prior to the season — something which to me is really, well, astonishing, as in all the years, when the majority wanted to have a rule change for a good reason, they always said that would not be possible in a short term or so late before a season,” added the 40-year-old German. Motorsport’s world governing body FIA announced the rule changes on Tuesday to a mixed reception. Formula One teams had been pressing for a compromise whereby winning drivers would receive 12 points rather than 10, but were ignored. Points will still decide the constructors’ championship and will be used as a tiebreaker if drivers have the same number of wins in the season. Schumacher is forecasting a tough time for the McLaren team of last year’s champion Lewis Hamilton. “McLaren at the moment looks pretty bad,” he said. Schumacher, who still advises Ferrari, believes Renault, Toyota, Williams and the Brawn GP team of former Ferrari technical guru Ross Brawn will contend this season. “After Barcelona (Circuit de Catalunya testing) you clearly have to say that Ross’ team was outstanding,” he added. Formula One testing has continued this week at Jerez in Spain with Heikki Kovalainen and Hamilton again apparently struggling for pace in the new McLaren.