Fernando Alonso has predicted that Michael Schumacher could be his most 'dangerous' rival this year in the battle for the F1 2011 drivers' title.
Alonso, who had to settle for the runners-up spot last season in the drivers' championship, after a nightmare final race in Abu Dhabi, warned that the German should never be written off, even if he did struggle on his return with Mercedes in 2010, following a three-year period in 'retirement'.
"There will be five world champions on the track [this season] and the most dangerous champion for me is always Michael," Alonso told journalists at the traditional joint Ferrari/Ducati 'Wrooom' media launch at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort in the Italian Dolomites.
"[So] now in January if I have to choose one name I have to say Michael [is my main worry]. He is seven-times champion. He has nothing to prove.
“He had a difficult season [in 2010] but he is still a champion. He is still super class and if the car is right he will be a contender."
Alonso also added that he expects Sebastian Vettel
to step it up a gear now he has won the title: "No doubt Sebastian will be a contender [too]. He will have experience and will be calm in certain moments,” Alonso continued. “He will drive better than last year and that makes him dangerous to us.
“McLaren will also be one of the favourites. Hopefully [though] our car is better than the others and my toughest rival this year is Felipe [Massa – my team-mate]."
Meanwhile, Alonso noted that the disappointment of missing out in 2010 will just make the Scuderia even more determined this season.
"When you succeed the emotions, feelings don't make you think of the general view of what happened. When you don't succeed, you look into the details,” he concluded.