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JANUARY 12, 2001

Jody Scheckter backs Williams to topple big two

FORMER world champion Jody Scheckter has backed BMW-Williams to end Ferrari and McLaren's dominance of Formula One, but said it could be three years before the big two are toppled.

Scheckter, who's 1979 title made him Ferrari's last champion before Michael Schumacher's success this year, believes Williams will be the team to watch again this year but admitted it could take three years for them to get back to the top of the sport.

"I think it is probably a good thing for the sport that Ferrari have finally won a title," said Scheckter. "But then again maybe it isn't.

"The sport has always been the way it is because of money and the people it buys. I think Williams will be the only team to challenge McLaren and Ferrari but it will take time.

"There are one or two teams up there but without the major funding the likes of Ferrari have they will never be able to challenge for the championship."

South African Scheckter, whose son Tomas is the new Jaguar test driver, added that Formula One has become diluted and admitted it needs a James Hunt-like character to take the intensity out of the sport.

"James Hunt was a popstar and a driver all in one," he said. "Now there is no real characters in the sport and it is a shame it has gone that way.

"Eddie Irvine is the closest you get to that sort of character but the problem it is that everything is watered down. Nobody is accessible anymore."