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Mansell predicts 'titanic' 2011 battle

Fraser Masefield
December 8, 2010 « Ecclestone starts succession planning? | »
'Mercedes could be the joker in the pack'

Former world champion Nigel Mansell thinks the 2011 Formula One season will be just as exciting as this year's monumental title fight and predicts another close tussle between Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren.

"I really foresee an incredible 2011 developing," said Mansell. "With four or five world champions on the grid together you've got to go back to the early 80s where you had something similar when we had seven one year.

"I think McLaren will come back even stronger, Adrian [Newey] is certainly not lying down and working very hard and the maturity with winning the championship Sebastian Vettel has now will be enormous. Mark [Webber] is a good, solid, upstanding man and I think he'll grow in stature and hopefully come out in 2011 and be a real strong competitor with Sebastian."

Mansell also thinks fellow Brits Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will once again be strong title contenders in 2011.

"They are both world champions, they're both hungry, both young and in one of the best teams in the business. They have an incredible power plant with Mercedes and I think the great thing this year was that I don't think there was a team or driver that didn't make a mistake and I think what I foretell in 2011 is that teams and drivers will learn a lot of lessons and I think you'll see fewer mistakes in 2011 and you'll see another titanic championship battle."

No stranger to Formula One comebacks himself, Mansell did not think Michael Schumacher had made the wrong decision in returning to the sport.

"At the end of 2011 if he hasn't won and the team haven't given him the car to demonstrate how good he is and how great he is then maybe it might have been the wrong decision. But I think now he should be back with all the same feelings he had before he left, the development over this winter has given Ross Brawn the time and the team to energize everything they need and they have had a couple of showings where the car has demonstrated a better turn of speed. So they could be the joker in the pack next year and do something very special."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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