Ferrari struggles on opening day

World Champions Ferrari were put in the shadows on the opening day of this weekend's inaugural Chinese Grand Prix as it struggled to match the pace of its rivals on Formula 1's second new circuit of the year

Ferrari struggles on opening day

Michael Schumacher in particular failed to get to grips with the F2004 around the Shanghai circuit, despite topping the times on his first flying lap out of the box in the first session. The German quickly dropped down the order finishing 15th in the first session improving to eighth in the second. At one point he came to an uncharacteristic halt at the end of the pitlane with a software problem.

Schumacher admitted that it had been a challenging first day for the team. "This has been an interesting Friday for us, mainly because it is a new circuit," he said. "We only saw it for the first time yesterday and today we tackled it for the first time in the car, when I got a slightly different impression. Several corners have a blind apex and, generally, it is a very challenging circuit. We still have to adapt our car to the demands of the track and it is not yet perfect. So there is still some work to be done. This morning, I had a small problem with software at the end of the session, but I am confident we can have a good weekend."

Technical boss Ross Brawn explained that the main problem was the constantly changing track conditions preventing the team from finding an optimum set-up.

"We have not yet found a very good balance for the cars and we have a bit too much understeer," he said. "So we have some work to do overnight, even though we made some improvements in between today's two sessions. But we are not where we want to be. The track is changing quite a lot at the moment, which does not help as it means we are trying to hit a moving target. Even without this minor difficulty, tyre choice would always have been a bit of an educated guess as this is a new track."

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