Rubens Barrichello is expecting Ferrari to face tougher opposition in Malaysia than at the first race in Australia, but also believes the F2004 will be more competitive than previous cars have been at Sepang. The past two years Ferrari started the...
Rubens Barrichello is expecting Ferrari to face tougher opposition in Malaysia than at the first race in Australia, but also believes the F2004 will be more competitive than previous cars have been at Sepang. The past two years Ferrari started the season with a year old car but the Brazilian thinks the 2004 challenger will cope with the hot conditions better.
"The last couple of years in Malaysia, we raced with the previous year's car and we were up against tough competition so we struggled a little bit," he said. "I don't think we will have such a big advantage over our rivals as we did in Australia and we can expect it to be a tougher weekend than in Melbourne, but we are going to be competitive."
"This car runs better in hot conditions than its predecessor and we will be better prepared for Malaysia than in the past. We could be facing tougher opposition, but I expect we will be on the pace. We know what to expect and we just have to do our job and get the full potential out of the car."
While other race drivers headed straight to the Far East after Melbourne, to acclimatize for Sepang, Barrichello returned to Europe for testing at Valencia. "The first day of the Valencia test was something of a washout because of the rain and I only did 19 laps," he explained. "But the second day was much more productive. It was a good test and we were able to finalise our choice of Bridgestone tyres to use at the Sepang circuit."
Some are expecting the Bridgestone tyres to struggle in the heat in Malaysia but Barrichello is confident of the work that has been done. "We have got a very good compound, with plenty of grip and with good enough wear characteristics to deal with the heat and I think it is going to be very strong for us. The tyres are getting better all the time. This is only the beginning and we are still trying many new tyres for the rest of the season."
The conditions will be as tough on the drivers as on the cars but Barrichello does not mind the heat. "It does not bother me and in fact I quite enjoy the conditions there and I am looking forward to it," he commented.
"It's great to be racing again and I am looking forward to this eighteen race season. I think more races and less testing is the way to go. I have to say that while I was testing in Valencia, sometimes I felt like sleeping after all the travelling! But, now I'm here in Malaysia I'm on top form again. I can't wait for Sunday."