Michael Schumacher tested for two days at Ferrari's home track Fiorano and the results speak for themselves: on Friday, the German champion set a new lap record in 57.476, thus breaking his own previous record, which dated back to May, by 0.850 ...
Michael Schumacher tested for two days at Ferrari's home track Fiorano and the results speak for themselves: on Friday, the German champion set a new lap record in 57.476, thus breaking his own previous record, which dated back to May, by 0.850 seconds. Then, on Saturday, Schumacher did a very high mileage, covering 132 laps without experiencing the slightest technical problem and lapping very near to the record time.
Of course, the four times world champion was happy with the work in preparation for the next two races at Magny-Cours and Hockenheim. "We are making a lot of progress and we learned some important things from the test," said Michael before heading for home.
As usual, the German spent the time before heading for Magny-Cours with his family, as he prepares to tackle a race he has won five times in the past.
"At this time of year, it is usually very hot in France and that is the factor that most influences the car's behaviour. The track surface can be slippery and the tyres react in a different way to usual. That means it won't be an easy race, but we are confident and happy with the package at our disposal."
His optimism is justified given the team's recent successes and the high level of reliability. The last time Michael retired in a race goes back to Hockenheim 2001 and the German has scored points in every race so far this season. That has been a key factor in building up his lead in the Drivers' classification, which sees him heading for a fifth title, with the possibility of taking the crown as early as this weekend in France.
But would Michael not prefer to win it at Hockenheim in front of his home crowd? The champion is a bit vague about this point. "We will try to take it at Magny-Cours, because I would like to win the race. But that on its own might not be enough to win the championship, as it does not only depend on me, but also on what the others will do. So it does not really matter if it waits until Hockenheim."
Michael is really close to taking a fifth title and the German recognises how much that is down to the ceaseless work undertaken by Ferrari. Many people expected Ferrari to ease up a bit after the extraordinary 2001 season, but in fact the opposite is true. Ferrari has worked hard and has sought to improve in all areas. But where does the team really have an edge over its rivals?
"Probably, we have just done a better job," said Michael. "Especially as far as the tyres are concerned. Our partnership with Bridgestone is exceptional, because the tyres are perfect for our car and that is a basic advantage because the tyres are a vital factor. However, in general, our success comes from the fact we work hard and in a constructive way and this has brought its rewards both in terms of reliability and speed."