After starting the last two seasons with a year-old car, Ferrari intends to have the new F2004 on the grid at Melbourne in six weeks time. At the launch of the car at the team headquarters in Maranello on January 26th, there was a slight...
After starting the last two seasons with a year-old car, Ferrari intends to have the new F2004 on the grid at Melbourne in six weeks time. At the launch of the car at the team headquarters in Maranello on January 26th, there was a slight anti-climax as the F2004 proved to be no radically different from its predecessor. Team principal Jean Todt had previously hinted there might be a surprise in store, but the surprise was that there wasn't one.
"It does look similar to last year's car, which if I remember correctly was quite good and won both championships! Now we must wait and see how the winter testing goes, when we will have a better indication of its potential."
On the subject of new regulations, Schumacher was happy to see the back of last year's qualifying system, which often saw the German out early on a dirty track for the first session. In 2003, championship standings decided the running order but for this year it will be the winner of the previous race who starts proceedings.
"I think it is a fairer system than last year, when as championship leader, I was nearly always first man out and had the job of 'road sweeper'", Michael commented. For the first race of the season it will be the winner of the last race of the previous season who leads off. In the case of Melbourne 2004 it will be Rubens Barrichello, who won at Suzuka.
The on track competition was very close last year and we can expect more of the same in 2004. Michelin has improved its tyres and in winter testing the new cars of Williams and McLaren have been breaking lap records.
Schumacher isn't expecting an easy time of things but is relishing the prospect of returning to action: "The next season is always your toughest," he said. "But I am as motivated as ever, for the simple reason that I love to race."