Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn is quietly confident about his team's chances of success at this weekend's United States Grand Prix judging by the performance of Bridgestone's tyres on the opening day of practice.
With evolving track conditions often seeing the relative performance of Formula One's two tyre manufacturers shifting over the course of a weekend, Brawn has said he has suspicions that the Indy circuit is going to come towards Bridgestone.
"We'll wait and see, but our tyres were looking a little bit soft today which is a good sign," said Brawn on Friday afternoon. "By Saturday and Sunday they come good. The symptoms we had with the tyre today give us confidence that the tyres will get better as the weekend goes on.
"In Montreal we had problems with the tyres and it wasn't so clear whether they would evolve in a good way over the weekend. But here we're much more confident."
Schumacher's challenge on Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen at the Canadian Grand Prix was wrecked by him getting trapped behind Jarno Trulli in the early stages of the race.
Brawn admitted that the team had hoped to get the jump on the Toyota at the start of the race, but that plan ended after a clutch issue slowed Schumacher's getaway.
"There was a procedure we needed to go through and it wasn't quite right," explained Brawn, who said the team are reverting to a standard procedure this time out. "The clutch release wasn't in the right position. Overall we're debating whether it's practical for a race weekend.
"It gives us a bit more performance, but it's more difficult to do and if you don't get it right then you can lose some start performance."
In terms of the championship fight, Ferrari are planning a major upgrade to their 248 F1 for the French Grand Prix next month in a bid to continue taking the fight to Renault, and Brawn is optimistic about his team's chances of responding to their main rivals over the second half of the year.
"We have been reasonably encouraged by the competitiveness compared to last year, but disappointed we haven't made a stronger challenge for the championship," he said. "We're optimistic that we can continue to improve and we can compete more in the second half. It's a much better job than last year but it's not where we want to be yet."