Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher arrived at the Sakhir circuit this afternoon and faced the media for the usual question session prior to the race weekend. The Brazilian was the first to go under the spotlight, quizzed immediately about...
Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher arrived at the Sakhir circuit this afternoon and faced the media for the usual question session prior to the race weekend. The Brazilian was the first to go under the spotlight, quizzed immediately about the fact that Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro will be giving the new F2005 car its race debut here in Bahrain.
"I have to congratulate everyone at Ferrari for the work they have done to get the F2005 ready for this race," began Barrichello. "They worked day and night, the race team and everyone at the factory. I have only had about seven hours to get to know the car during one day's testing at Mugello."
"I felt the car is better, with stupendous balance in the fast corners. From my very first lap out of the pits I knew the F2005 was a quicker car. It gave me a good feeling and now we have to see how much quicker it goes. It is a big improvement over the previous car. I hope it allows us to make a big step forward, but I am keeping my feet on the ground."
Although the performance of the F2005 is not in doubt, there are other unknowns involved with a debut race. "Everything in terms of the buttons and the seating position are the same on this car as the old one, so there is no problem in adapting to actually driving it," said Barrichello.
"But, what we still need to acquire is the right feeling in terms of getting the set-up sorted out. We need to get as much information as quickly as possible this weekend to establish a good set-up for the race. You can have a quick car, but without the right set-up you are not going to get the most out of it."
"That job will be the biggest challenge for us this weekend. I don't think we will have any reliability problems just because the car is new, so we can be calm on that front."
With Renault taking the first two wins, there was talk of a Ferrari collapse, but Barrichello just laughed this off. "We are a strong group of people who concentrate on our problems and I don't think this is the end of the current Ferrari era," he maintained. "At least I hope not!"
"In fact, with the current situation, I'm enjoying the challenge and looking forward to seeing how we progress with the new car. We now need to push on with our test programme and try and win another championship. Last year we were very quick here now we will see what happens this year."
When Schumacher's turn came in front of the microphones, he faced pretty much the same questions as his team-mate. "I am glad that everyone in the team pushed so hard to get the new car here ahead of schedule," was the world champion's opening remark. "Now we will have to see if it is good enough to put us back in front."
"However, I think this will be another tough race weekend for us, but hopefully not as tough as Malaysia. Our test drivers and the test team have done most of the work on F2005, with me and Rubens only having one day's testing each. But I feel we have done enough kilometres in it to be confident about using it here."
As for Renault's strong showing, Michael's answer could be summed up as a case of "I told you so." "Renault is clearly very strong and I have always said in the past that the time will come when other teams will give us a tough fight," he reminded his audience. "People did not believe me, but now we have the proof."
"But we have had tough times in the past, if you remember 2003 when I only had 8 points after the first three races. Let's see how many points I have after Sunday night. Ferrari has the resources to get back on top. We also have a strong partnership with Bridgestone, who have been criticised a lot at the moment."
"But we must not forget that we have won for the last five years in a row with them and I trust them to also fight back. Remember, we have only had two races and there are 19 races this year, so there is still a long way to go."
As for this weekend, Schumacher feels it will be tough test for the new car and the team: "You do not have the mileage that you had in the past. We have to remember that the engines must now last for two race weekends and so you have to watch how many kilometres you can do. Probably, after the two qualifying sessions, we will have a better idea of where we stand compared to the opposition."