Rubens Barrichello is expecting Renault and McLaren to be Ferrari's main rivals at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix and thinks it will be a tougher race than in Melbourne. How the single set of tyres for qualifying and the race, along with the...
Rubens Barrichello is expecting Renault and McLaren to be Ferrari's main rivals at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix and thinks it will be a tougher race than in Melbourne. How the single set of tyres for qualifying and the race, along with the second outing for the engines in most cases, will cope with the Malaysian heat adds to the challenge.
"Malaysia is always tougher and this time, we must tackle it with an engine that has already done a Grand Prix," Barrichello said at a meeting with the media on Thursday. "On top of that, Renault and McLaren have shown they are very strong this year. I think the fight here will be between our three teams and they will provide all the podium places on Sunday afternoon."
"Melbourne was quite easy on the tyres, but I think that with the conditions here, we will have to keep a close watch on our tyres after the halfway point. But overall, I have confidence in the work Ferrari has done, although we will have to be careful as to how we manage the package on the first two days."
Michael Schumacher did not finish the race in Melbourne but was still pleased with the competitiveness of the F2004M. Despite that, he knows full well that Sepang is a challenge and agreed with his teammate that it will be hard work over the next few days.
"I never expected to be as competitive as we were in Melbourne," he commented. "I even think that if it had not been for the unusual qualifying, we could have challenged for the win. However, usually in the past, if we have had a big advantage in Australia, much of it disappeared when we came to Malaysia, so I am expecting a harder weekend."
Barrichello currently leads Schumacher in the standings by eight points to zero but the Brazilian shrugged off the idea that the situation has any significance. "This is going to be a long championship and these first eight points are important but not especially so," he remarked.
"And comparing myself to Michael is not the issue. What is important is that I have the support of the team and it is they who put me in a position to challenge for the title."
Ferrari had originally planned for the F2005 to debut in Spain but it's possible the new car may make an appearance before then. "Development has gone well and if our tests in Mugello after this race are as positive as the ones so far, then maybe we can bring the new car earlier than the Spanish GP," said Schumacher.