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Ferrari star, Michael Schumach

Ferrari star, Michael Schumacher reckons that he could face a more 'difficult' challenge this year, having firmly stamped his authority on the championship in 2004, winning 13 of the 18 races.

Schumacher, who has pretty much re-written the F1 record since joining the Scuderia back in 1996, told British newspaper, The Sunday Times, that he expects rival teams - Williams, McLaren, Renault and BAR to be a lot stronger this season.

"I'm sure it will be a much more difficult year," he told the broadsheet.

"Firstly, it was unexpected for us to be much stronger than the others at the start of 2004, and whatever mistakes they made they probably won't repeat. At the same time, it has been very tough to get to where we are and we'd like to hold on.

"I believe we can."

Technical director Ross Brawn meanwhile has said that Schumacher will have to adapt this year, following changes to the regulations that mean one set of tyres must last for the entire race.

"One thing Michael does supremely is drive in stints - say, 20 laps flat out, then come in and change the tyres and start again," Brawn told BBC Sport Online.

"This year, with only being allowed one set of tyres per race, he'll have to adapt.

"What's interesting is that he has always been harder on tyres than Rubens [Barrichello - his team-mate], so he's going to have to be much more measured."
 
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