Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello are confident that the F2004 is an improvement on last year's car and are ready to get out on track and prove it. Attending a Shell press conference in Melbourne today, the pair talked...
Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello are confident that the F2004 is an improvement on last year's car and are ready to get out on track and prove it. Attending a Shell press conference in Melbourne today, the pair talked about the new car and new regulations.
Barrichello agreed: "It is definitely better than the F2003-GA, but it is hard for me to explain in what areas," said the Brazilian. "I can describe it as feeling more complete. We can see the improvement on the stopwatch and from the data, but from the cockpit it is difficult to say why it is better. I think that in 2002 we had a fantastic car and with last year's car, possibly because of the rule changes, I don't think we always got the most out of it. But with the 2004, I think we will be able to extract all its potential. In a championship where every single point will be vital, that will be a valuable factor."
This year split-session qualifying continues but will be held on Saturday only rather than on both Friday and Saturday as previously. Schumacher is happy about the change: "I am in favour of this rule," he stated. "Last year, the track was often dirty on Friday afternoon, as it had not been used much and other formulae had practiced on it in between our sessions. This new system should be fairer for the drivers who have to go out early in the first session."
The new engine rule means teams will be conservative in Friday practices. "The new rule will have an effect, because you will always be conscious of not overstressing the engine prior to the race," Schumacher commented. "Although reducing engine revs and doing less laps on Friday is one possibility, you cannot reduce the laps too much because you still need to do all the usual preparation work, such as finding the right tyre choice. It will be a compromise."
Barrichello wasn't willing to make any predictions for this weekend based on winter testing. "It does not give you a clear indication," he said. "Even Friday's practice here will not show us what the order is and the same could even apply to Saturday qualifying with the possibility of different teams running different fuel loads."
The Brazilian is confident that he can make an impression in 2004: "Maybe I said it last year, but it is just as true now that I have never felt in such good shape, mentally and physically, as I do now," he said. "I feel this is the right time of my career and if I have the chance to win I will take it."