Motor Racing

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Schumacher may benefit from ban on refuelling, says Coulthard

By Robin Scott-Elliot in Abu Dhabi

The banning of refuelling during races will ease Michael Schumacher's return to the sport, according to David Coulthard. Cars will be heavier and therefore not as quick, meaning Schumacher, whose fitness has been questioned, will have less physical strain to contend with.

"Races will be slower because of that mass you're having to drive with in the early laps," Coulthard said. "And a slower lap time means less physical load on the body so it will probably be quite easy for him."

The Scot, who won 13 grands prix, is on friendly terms with Schumacher now, but had several contretemps with him during his driving career. "I've just been texting him," said Coulthard, who at 38 is three years younger than the German. "When we were racing I struggled with the fact that he would never admit his portion of any incident. It's never 100 per cent someone's fault, but when we had our various run-ins and tried to sort it out afterwards, he would never acknowledge it. After Spa in 1998 when he ran into the back of me and then came into the garage threatening to kill me, I asked him, 'Are you ever wrong?' and he said, 'Not that I remember.'

"I have no doubt that he can still drive quickly. Will he still be as ruthless? I'm curious to see. What we're getting is a real-life experiment: can a 41-year-old compete in Formula One?

"He will still have tactical ability, but does he still have that final key ingredient? The one that meant he was the guy who could park it at Rascasse [corner] in Monaco [in 2006] and get out and say he didn't do anything wrong... and believe it."

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