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'He's still the old Michael' - Brawn
Mercedes GP boss Ross Brawn is adamant that Michael Schumacher is every bit as good as he was when he dominated the 2004 season and has predicted the "true Michael" will re-emerge next year.
Schumacher has only finished in the points nine times this season, but has failed to make the podium and has only three top-six finishes to his name. The seven-time champion has been regularly outpaced by team-mate Nico Rosberg, but Brawn believes that only issues with the tyres have prevented Schumacher from making a bigger impact on the drivers' championship.
"If you take the telemetry data in fast corners or his reaction time when the car breaks away, I don't see any difference," Brawn told the official Formula 1 website. "There he's still the old Michael.
"But in the slow corners he cannot make full use of the tyres as Nico can. Nico has put the bar very high in this respect. But I guess that's okay for Michael as he clearly sees where he has to improve. I predict that in 2011 we will again see the true Michael - when we've delivered him a better car.
"Michael's driving style depends on a strong front tyre that can withstand his hard braking and the steering manoeuvres that he prefers. Nico has simply understood better how to handle these front tyres.
"I have to say that this year's front tyre is very uncommon. That stems from the fact that the FIA wanted to promote KERS and had asked Bridgestone to develop tyres that would fit a certain weight distribution and thus create a specific tyre characteristic."
Brawn admitted that Schumacher's reputation has earned him another season to prove himself.
"We know that there is still a lot to come because Michael is in many fields more talented than others - in driving and in the co-operation with the team," Brawn said. "The team are very happy with the way Michael is contributing. If he were a rookie we surely would have asked ourselves if he has the capacity to advance. With Michael we know that he has."
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