An enjoyable game of soccer with FC Echichens and plenty of quality time with the family. That was how Michael Schumacher spent his weekend off before the upcoming race weekend in Barcelona. Michael actually had more time on his hands than...
An enjoyable game of soccer with FC Echichens and plenty of quality time with the family. That was how Michael Schumacher spent his weekend off before the upcoming race weekend in Barcelona. Michael actually had more time on his hands than expected, because testing at Mugello ended early on Saturday afternoon because of the accident, rather than going on until the evening.
That gave the German champion an extra half day off before heading off to Istanbul on Monday for a Fiat promotional event, his final official engagement prior to the Spanish Grand Prix. The previous week, Schumacher had already been a Fiat guest at the International Motor Show at Leipzig.
What does the series leader expect from the fifth race of the season? "Testing at Barcelona at the end of March showed that we are looking good at this circuit," said the four times world champion. "Whatever happens, we should be competitive. However, it's best to be cautious when making predictions. We also went well in Brazil and Imola, circuits which should have favoured the Williams. In my opinion, what happened last year is no longer relevant. The past has shown that Formula 1 is constantly changing and there is no reason why that should not still be the case. One should also bear in mind that Williams and Michelin have done most of their testing in Barcelona."
But one can expect Bridgestone to be ready for this race. "Tyres are definitely important in Barcelona," said Michael. "And the Bridgestone engineers have made further progress in development terms."
Ferrari did not fall into the trap of resting on its laurels after the perfect Imola weekend. The Scuderia tested simultaneously at Monza and Mugello with Luciano Burti, Luca Badoer and Michael Schumacher. "The Imola weekend was a dream for all of us of course," said Michael. "But we know there is still a long way to go this season and we need to take it one race at a time."
"As soon as one race is over we are automatically focussed on the next one and so there is not much time for celebration. We have to maintain concentration and continue to push and that's exactly what we are doing." Nevertheless, the 2002 championship leader is pleased with the situation so far. "There is no reason not to be, given that, compared with this time last season I have eight more points and that makes me happy."
This is definitely due in part to the F2002, which so far has produced excellent results. So is that much better than its predecessor? "Let's put it this way; the 2000 Ferrari was a fantastic car, the 2001 model was in a class of its own and the F2002 seems to have got off to similar start, with the same objectives," said Michael.
Which is easier to drive - the old or the new car? "Each car has its limits and when pushed that far, all cars become difficult to drive. There will always be problems with under and oversteer, no matter what speed you are doing. These problems are typical of racing cars. The only thing that changes is where those limits are and they get pushed further and further forward."