Ferrari could have V8 advantage

Hopes that a radical change in Formula 1's engine regulations over the next few years could help erase much of Ferrari's advantage at the head of the field appear to have been wiped out with one of its chief rivals admitting the Italian team may already have the upper-hand in its early preparations

Ferrari could have V8 advantage

With many observers already admitting that there seems little chance of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari suffering a dramatic loss of pace by the start of next year, after its crushing form in 2004, there is now a fear that the Maranello-based outfit may have stolen the march on the opposition with regards to the new V8-engines.

Amid speculation earlier this year that Ferrari had been consulted heavily by the FIA on the move away from 3.0-litre V10 engines towards the new 2.4-litre V8 formula for 2006, it is now generally accepted that the team could be months ahead of the opposition in its preparation of the new power-units.

And that means that even if Ferrari's opposition can launch a much stronger challenge against the team in 2005, the reigning world champions may strike back harder than ever the following year.

Ferrari team manager Stefano Domenicalli has already confessed that the team's V8 engine has been running for: "quite some time on the dyno and will soon see its test debut in a car at Fiorano."

With Ferrari's closest rivals having only just decided to abandon an arbitration action against the FIA over the switch to V8 engines, the pressure is now on Mercedes-Benz, Honda and BMW to catch up on its development plans.

Speaking just before Christmas, BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen has admitted that his company is not yet as advanced as Ferrari in its plans.

"The change of concept creates quite some pressure and higher costs," he said. "We have to compress the development programme. But I cannot state yet a time for the first test on the dyno."

Despite the fact that Ferrari's rivals appear not to have to play a game of catch up, Theissen is confident that all is not lost yet.

Cheekily referring to the quality of recent BMW engines, Theissen said: "I am sure however that the team which has supposedly built the best grand prix engine during the last couple of years will also master this new task."

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