Schumacher aims to prove Ferrari pace

With all the madness of the Australian Grand Prix it was not easy for any driver to have a consistent race but Michael Schumacher believes Ferrari is more competitive than the outcome indicated. The German crashed out of the race after running wide onto the grass at the entry to the pit straight and his teammate Felipe Massa never even survived the first lap.

Michael Schumacher.
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It was a race to forget for the Maranello squad. "Performances like that of (the Melbourne) weekend are not our objective," Schumacher said, rather pointing out the obvious. "We have to work hard and prove that we are competitive in all conditions and not only in specific ones."

The former champion battled for victory with his successor Fernando Alonso in Bahrain but in Malaysia Schumacher and Massa were both demoted on the grid by engine penalties. They ended up in the points but the penalties made it hard to assess Ferrari's competitiveness.

The critics are already, yet again, proclaiming a Ferrari crisis but Schumacher is optimistic that the situation is not as bad as it was at the beginning of last season. "This year is completely different," he said. "This time we are much more competitive and our all-round package is much better than it appears."

"However, in the course of (the Melbourne) weekend we did not show this. Thank God that in Formula One we base everything on figures and these show that if the tyres had maintained their temperature, we could have stayed in the lead."

Quite how Schumacher came to that conclusion is a bit of a mystery, as Ferrari was never actually in the lead at Melbourne, never mind staying there. That aside, the German was the third fastest man behind McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen and Alonso in the way of lap times.

But even if it sounds good, third fastest lap was not on the pace, according to the figures. Raikkonen's best of 1:26.045 was a tenth and a half quicker than Alonso, while Schumacher's fastest lap was just over a second slower than the Finn. A second a lap down to McLaren is hardly something Ferrari can talk up, no matter what kind of spin they try to put on it.

F1 now has a break until the San Marino GP and popular wisdom dictates that when the sport returns to Europe after the early flyaways we will get a truer picture of the pecking order. Ferrari has updates to come for Imola and Schumacher is confident.

"For Imola we will have improved aerodynamics and there will be modifications to the engine so things should go better," he concluded. "So, we will be preparing intensively over the next few weeks in view of the event."