After extensive testing by Ferrari last week, with all four drivers participating at various Italian circuits, Michael Schumacher is optimistic for this coming weekend's Austrian Grand Prix. Schumacher tested at Mugello and Fiorano with the ...
After extensive testing by Ferrari last week, with all four drivers participating at various Italian circuits, Michael Schumacher is optimistic for this coming weekend's Austrian Grand Prix. Schumacher tested at Mugello and Fiorano with the F2003-GA; Rubens Barrichello and test drivers Luca Badoer and Felipe Massa also took to the track over five days.
While Renault upset the Ferrari applecart in Spain, Fernando Alonso denying Schumacher and Barrichello a Scuderia one-two finish by coming home second, the current champion is not about consider Renault a bigger threat than McLaren.
"I don't think Renault have made such a step forward," he commented. "In my opinion there is no point in assuming a different order based on just one race. I am starting from the presumption that McLaren-Mercedes will still be our main opponent. They have been strong since the start of the year, even if Renault scored an excellent result in Spain."
"But I think it will be interesting to see how things develop over the next few races, not only with regard to Renault but also how things go for BMW-Williams. Even on the driver side, I think that, in the long term, the McLaren guys will be the most competitive. Kimi (Raikkonen) is still leading the championship and is a great driver, but you can never rule out David (Coulthard)."
The first five races have produced some interesting results and Schumacher thinks it's good for the fans as well as the drivers and teams. A clear favourite has yet to emerge in the championship battle but the German believes Ferrari's difficulties from the start of the season are over.
"I think the championship is pretty exciting, not only for those directly involved, but also for the spectators and the fans," Michael observed. "It is very close and, looking at the drivers' classification, you realise that there are still several drivers in the running. I am sure the 2003 season will be a tough fight right to the end."
"We are ready now for Austria. Every single race is important and we have already been through our difficult moment."