5 April 2004
SAKHIR- Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello left with a scent of rose water while the opposition dusted off the sand after their latest defeat to Ferrari.
“The red desert storm,” said Germany’s Bild daily on Monday in reference to Schumacher’s 73rd career win the previous day.
Schumacher made it three wins in as many season races and team- mate Barrichello completed the second one-two finish for Ferrari in the campaign as fears of a lopsided season similar to 2002 grew even further.
After all, the best the principal rivals got out of the first ever Formula One race in the desert, the Bahrain Grand Prix, was a seventh-place finish from Williams-BMW driver Ralf Schumacher.
Team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya faded from third to 13th in the closing stages with gearbox problems, while neither of the McLaren- Mercedes drivers David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen saw the finish line.
Raikkonen, a runner-up in 2003 who had planned to challenge Schumacher for the title, has not finished at all this season.
Schumacher was in a similar situation last year as he needed to come from behind to win the title.
Now he reigns supreme with a maximum 30 points, far ahead of Barrichello (21) and Briton Jenson Button (15), who got a second straight third-place finish for BAR-Honda on Sunday.
Schumacher admitted that Ferrari enjoyed another “superb weekend” but insisted that it was too early to talk about the title with 15 races left, let alone a similar dominance as in 2002 where he won 11 races.
“There is still a long way to go and the rest will catch up so we have to be prepared. The others will raise their game,” Schumacher said.
Technical director Rosws Brawn agreed: “One of our characteristics is to keep our feet on the ground and never take anything for granted.”
Schumacher even found time to sympathise with McLaren, whose disaster The Guardian Monday named “one of their worst showings in living memory”.
“It is not nice to see what’s happening there. That is not good for our sport. But anyone who knows Mercedes will be aware that they will return stronger. But that may take some time,” said Schumacher.
Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug said: “We must work better together as a team and complete the races.”
Montoya also admitted that Ferrari were in a class of their own which is unlikely to change at the first race in Europe on 25 April the San Marino GP in Imola.
“It is clear we are not quick enough to match Ferrari at the moment. But we were the quickest on Michelin tyres, which is very important for us. I still had a good pace and would have come third if I hadn’t had that gearbox problem,” the Colombian said.
While McLaren and BMW were licking their wounds, Schumacher and Barrichello (as well as Button) got the unusual taste of the warrd drink – rose water mixed with local fruits – at the victory ceremony instead of the trademark champagne.
“We have never smelt so nice after the podium ritual. We usually smell strange, but this drink is amazing,” said Schumacher.
Subject: German news