Formula One veteran excited about his first night race

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Formula One veteran excited about his first night race

SINGAPORE - Michael Schumacher might be a two-decade veteran of Formula One but he has never raced at night, and the German is excited by the prospect this weekend in Singapore.

The 41-year-old seven-time champion, now driving for Mercedes, was in retirement when the city-state’s first Grand Prix was first held under lights in 2008, and then again last year. But he will be on the grid of the street circuit on Sunday.

“I have always been fond of getting to know new circuits and Singapore will definitely be an exciting adventure,” he said.

“I have three reasons to look forward to the weekend: it is a new circuit for me, it is a city race and it will be my first night race.”

Schumacher goes into his new adventure with plenty to prove. Since his return to Formula One this season, he has finished no higher than fourth and is currently ninth in the world drivers’ championships after 14 races. But the German is keen to stress that he has always been quick to adapt to new circuits, holding out hope of a decent finish.

“Driving a new track has never been too complicated for me and I am usually very quick to learn and find the rhythm,” he said.

“As a team, we would like to perform strongly and we will give our maximum to deliver as good a show as possible.”

Schumacher prepares for Sunday under increasing pressure, with questions intensifying about whether he can compete with the young guns of the sport such as teammate Nico Rosberg who has consistently been faster.

On Wednesday, Flavio Briatore, former director of Benetton and Renault, told German media that he feels Schumacher’s return was “a huge mistake.”

“[Michael] believed at the time of signing his contract that he had made a good decision, but I think he realized from the first serious tests that it was a huge mistake,” said Briatore. “At that point, he realized that the young drivers are alarmingly fast and motivated.

“At 41, Michael can simply no longer compete with Nico Rosberg and all the other guys.”

Briatore was managing director when Schumacher won the first two of his seven world titles in 1994 and 1995 at Benetton. Rosberg, meanwhile, is eager to race again in Singapore, where he finished second behind Fernando Alonso in 2008.

“The atmosphere is fantastic and the concept of a night race works really well once you get into the routine of staying on European time,” he said.

“I had the best finish of my career so far at Singapore in 2008 when I finished second, so the race has good memories for me. The track is good fun to drive and a real challenge.

“It feels like a proper street circuit, very narrow and enclosed, with a stop-start nature that never gives you the chance to relax.

“We’ve had decent results at the last two races so we will be hoping to continue our run of points finishes in Singapore next weekend.”

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