Schumacher looks to new Ferrari to beat Alonso

31st March 2005, Comments 0 comments

31 March 2005, SAKHIR, BAHRAIN - World champion Michael Schumacher hopes to challenge at the front of the grid for the first time this season at this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix where Ferrari will debut its new F2005 car.

31 March 2005

SAKHIR, BAHRAIN - World champion Michael Schumacher hopes to challenge at the front of the grid for the first time this season at this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix where Ferrari will debut its new F2005 car.

Schumacher has managed just two points from the opening two races of the season, failing to finish in Melbourne and coming home a distant seventh in Malaysia, causing the Italian marque to move the launch of the F2005 forward to Bahrain.

"We finally race the F2005 this weekend and I have to admit that I can't wait to get on to the track with it," said the 36-year-old German.

"We have tested the new car a lot and it has made a good impression on us. Still we expect another tough battle in Bahrain."

Schumacher, who took the chequered flag after starting from pole position in last year's race, faces his toughest challenge from Renault drivers Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Fisichella won in Melbourne while Alonso became the first Spanish driver to lead the F1 standings when he claimed victory in Bahrain. The 23-year-old has 16 points from two races, Fisichella has ten while Schumacher has two points.

Ferrari and Schumacher's cause hasn't been helped by the performance of Bridgestone's long-life tyres, especially in the heat of Malaysia, in comparison to what Michelin are delivering for Renault.

"Michelin were very strong in high temperatures at Sepang, and even though the tyre energy is less in Bahrain, the heat will still make it very demanding, so I expect the tyres to be competitive," said Alonso.

Bridgestone have admitted that at the moment they are no match for Michelin but have promised to bring an entirely new batch of tyres to Bahrain.

Despite racing in Bahrain with new Bridgestone tyres and a new car, Schumacher goes into the race weekend as second-favourite behind Alonso.

The team are definitely on a high at the moment so we will go to Bahrain feeling very optimistic, but it is hard to be certain," said the Renault driver cautiously, perhaps aware that drivers write seven- time champion Schumacher off at their peril.

Another reason for not writing off Ferrari just yet is that every year since 1999 a new Ferrari car has won on its F1 racing debut.

One person not challenging for honours this weekend will be McLaren-Mercedes driver Juan Pablo Montoya, who sustained a shoulder injury during a tennis match with his personal trainer in Madrid at the weekend

The Colombian's place will be taken by McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa of Spain, who will be the team's second driver alongside Kimi Raikkonen.

DPA

Subject: German news

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