Some may have described Michael Schumacher's Malaysian victory as another dominating drive but the current champion refutes that it was an easy ride. Ferrari certainly didn't have the half a minute advantage it enjoyed in Melbourne and Williams'...
Some may have described Michael Schumacher's Malaysian victory as another dominating drive but the current champion refutes that it was an easy ride. Ferrari certainly didn't have the half a minute advantage it enjoyed in Melbourne and Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya kept Schumacher on his toes at Sepang. The Colombian finished a comparatively close five seconds behind the winner while the second Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello had to settle for fourth.
"Let's be clear about this; the race certainly wasn't all easy," said Schumacher. "We had some difficulties and we were all focused because Montoya was so close. This made the victory even sweeter. It has to be said though that F2004 is simply a great car."
The cynics may be already predicting another Ferrari walkover in 2004 but Schumacher is puzzled about that line of thinking. "Yes it has been a perfect start to the season," he conceded. "But this kind of thing has been part of the Formula One world for too long. There are still 16 races to go. I really don't understand how you could think something like this."
"F1 is a very competitive sport and our rivals are motivated and able to counter-attack at any time. How often in the past have the early leaders been overtaken during the course of the season? If we think back to last year when Williams did not do very well at the beginning of the season and then, all of a sudden, they were going for the title."
Despite expectations to the contrary, the Bridgestone tyres held up well in Malaysia's heat. Whether the same will happen at the next race in Bahrain, where temperatures are expected to be similar, is yet to be seen. Schumacher thinks that this year's races can't be predicted by what has happened in previous seasons.
"Some said last year that the teams that performed well in high temperatures would have an easy time of it on every other circuit, but I don't think this can be said for this season; instead the situation has to be assessed race by race," he commented. "Naturally, I wouldn't complain it if it turned out to be true!"