There are now only a few days before the Australian Grand Prix and while waiting to finally get onto the Melbourne circuit, Michael Schumacher reflects on the latest modifications made to the Formula 1 regulations. Michael ...
There are now only a few days before the Australian Grand Prix and while waiting to finally get onto the Melbourne circuit, Michael Schumacher reflects on the latest modifications made to the Formula 1 regulations.
Michael Schumacher has always been one of the more attentive drivers on the track; after the regulation changes, there are still some points to be clarified: "As a matter of principle, I think that the obligatory use of the head and neck support system (HANS), is positive, precisely because it is a measure aimed at improving driver safety. I found a HANS model which doesn't disturb me while I drive...naturally, I had to get used to it but driver comfort remains the major issue to resolve. Though I don't understand why this system has been made compulsory when there are many other questions to resolve. The only other critical point, in my view, is the fact that only one type of wet tyre will be allowed."
In any case, the challenges of the Formula 1 season remain high: from Silverstone on, traction control on the single-seaters will also be banned. "It could a little difficult" - considered Michael - "above all in the rain and in variable conditions. I start from the supposition that we are all good racing drivers, and so we should know how to cope with situations like this. And anyway, we raced with traction control before. Maybe it will be a bit harder for the younger drivers and the jump from the lower levels to Formula 1 will no longer be that simple."
"But deep down I am a little sorry; if I could choose, I would prefer to race with electronics: it is a stimulating factor in the putting together of the car. It's about the sophistication, the data, and the discussions with the engineers. Many people think that electronics have made life easier for the drivers, but in my opinion it is just a different challenge, certainly not an easier one because it necessitates the close harmony between drivers and technicians and the total comprehension of all the whole systems."
Do we expect a revolutionised Formula 1 then? "I prefer to be surprised", commented Schumacher, "wait and see. Of the rest, I have never thought that all these changes were anti-Ferrari measures. I prefer to think that they are measures pro something, in other words to favour the smaller teams rather than measures against something. Further, the bigger teams can react more easily to the changes because they have greater means to do so. In reality, success is based on a series of factors, linked together like a puzzle, and a good team will remain a good team."
Talking of good teams it comes spontaneously to consider which teams will be the most feared by the Maranello outfit this season. "I think that the most dangerous opponents will be McLaren-Mercedes." - declared Michael - "but also Toyota, BAR, Sauber and Renault have performed well during testing. Then, naturally, we have to see how the Williams behaves in races." Ferrari, in the name of reliability, will start the season using the F2002 from last year. It has still not yet been decided at which circuit the F2003-GA will make its entrance.
"Despite the numerous uncertainties" - concluded Michael - "the probability of achieving acceptable results right from the first races are good. In this sense there are no reasons not to be optimistic. Cautiously optimistic, obviously!"