Brawn Defends New Gearbox Decision

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn believes that the team's decision to build an all-new gearbox for the F2005 this year to take advantage of new regulations will pay off handsomely in the next few races, despite the troubles it caused at Bahrain last weekend

Rubens Barrichello's weekend was derailed by gearbox problems throughout practice and qualifying, and with Michael Schumacher retiring with an hydraulic failure, the team endured their first non-points scoring race since the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix.

But despite the troubles, Brawn is convinced that the team have done the right thing in building the new gearbox, which has been designed in such a way to allow a more sculpted and effective diffuser than the old design would have allowed.

"Effectively, in all this time (since Brawn announced last summer that Ferrari would stop developing the F2004 to focus on the F2005) we concentrated on the design of the gearbox and its integration with the engine," Brawn was quoted as saying in Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday.

"We immediately understood that the aerodynamic key to be fast with the new regulations is in the central part of the rear diffuser, under the car, in the gearbox area specifically.

"We could have found a solution based on the 2004 design, but we realised that it was better to re-design the gearbox and to modify the external part of the engine in order to push ahead. This means that the concept of the gearbox we've produced is not questioned. I'm sure that within a couple of races we'll see the advantages of the F2005 project."

The fact that Michael Schumacher was able to qualify the new F2005 on the front row in Bahrain and challenge eventual race winner Fernando Alonso for the lead in the early stages has given the team enough indication to feel that their new car will be a serious contender this year.

Looking back at the debut, Brawn said: "There's always a margin of error when a debut is forced through, so in Bahrain we suffered a string of problems to which we weren't able to respond in the appropriate way.

"But besides that, we've also had some very encouraging information: the F2005 doesn't ruin its tyres so badly so, once everything is sorted, the drivers will be able to take the best advantage of it.

"We haven't had a good start, but the F2005 was nevertheless fast and reactive, as soon as Schumacher made some set-up changes."

That confidence in the ultimate capability of the F2005 has left Brawn adamant that Ferrari's World Championship hopes are not over yet - despite their disastrous start to the campaign.

"We were chased before, and now we must chase, but this is F1. It's my job, Schumacher's, and everyone's, to make the chase successful. I'm optimistic: we'll see some good stuff in Imola already."

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