Title chaser Michael Schumacher, not championship leader Fernando Alonso, is favourite to win the 2006 battle, according to the majority of F1 chiefs.
German newspaper ‘Munchner Abendzeitung’ conducted a survey of the eleven team principals in pit lane and found that Ferrari’s Schumacher – albeit ten points behind Renault rival Alonso – has the paddock’s confidence for an eighth career crown.
Voting for Schumacher were BMW’s Mario Theissen, Honda’s Nick Fry, MF1’s Colin Kolles, Aguri Suzuki, Toro Rosso’s Franz Tost, Red Bull’s Christian Horner and – of course – Ferrari team principal Jean Todt.
Only Toyota’s John Howett reckoned Spaniard Alonso would hang on to his championship lead to win a successive drivers’ title, as did the two men in pit lane with the 25-year-old’s name on a contract — McLaren chief Ron Dennis (2007) and Flavio Briatore (2006).
Sir Frank Williams was the only boss to abstain from the vote, whilst F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone agreed that – with five races to go – it is too close to call.
”Schumacher is on a roll,” Ecclestone said of Schumacher, who prior to Jenson Button’s win at Hungary defeated Alonso three times on the trot, ”but Alonso is still in front.”