Michael Schumacher started his official weekend duties this morning, when he took part in a press conference which was well attended by international and local media. The world champion felt that the fact there were no Ferrari drivers on the...
Michael Schumacher started his official weekend duties this morning, when he took part in a press conference which was well attended by international and local media. The world champion felt that the fact there were no Ferrari drivers on the podium in Melbourne owed more to the specific circumstances of the race, rather than being a sign of what to expect for the season. This led to a question about the arrival of F2003-GA.
'There is no official statement from Ferrari as to when and how we will use the new car,' explained the German. 'There has been speculation we will start using it at the first European race, but we will only use it when we are ready. It certainly has more potential (than F2002) and that will be needed. The two accidents which Luca (Badoer) has had in testing are worrying of course, but this situation is not uncommon when testing prototype cars.'
Asked whether the war in Iraq would have any effect on the grand prix weekend, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro man replied: 'we are racing drivers, but our eyes are not closed to world events. I think it is a shame that all the talks seemed to be about when the war would start, rather than trying to have talks to avoid it. But at the end of the day, like all human beings, we want to get on with our own lives, so it will not affect me here in Malaysia. I know that some American sportsmen have pulled out of events, for example Tiger Woods has decided not to play in a Dubai tournament. But these are individual sports where one man can make that decision. Formula 1 is in a different situation and only the governing body can decide. I guess Max (Mosley) and the others have looked at the situation and decided it is okay.'
On the subject of the new rules, Schumacher repeated his feelings about the new qualifying rules. 'I would like refuelling to be allowed again between qualifying and the race, so that we use a proper qualifying car and push to the limit.'
Asked about the problems Barrichello experienced with the HANS (Head and Neck Support) Schumacher admitted to having two points of view. 'As the GPDA representative, I am pushing hard to make the sport as safe as possible, but as an individual, I feel that a driver should not be obliged to use it. Everyone is a different shape and Rubens is not the only one to have problems with it. I think the system was not available early enough for testing purposes and maybe we have not had enough time to prepare it.'
Michael's thoughts on the rest of the year? 'The season is still so young,' he said. 'In sport you never know what can happen. But we have a very strong car and will be fighting for the championship, but it will be more difficult this year.'