Lauda: Don't Write Ferrari Off

Former World Champion Niki Lauda has warned Ferrari's rivals to write off the World Champions at their peril - because he is convinced the Maranello outfit will turn around their troubled start to the 2005 season

Lauda: Don't Write Ferrari Off

Although Ferrari have had their worst start to a season in almost a decade, Lauda believes he has seen enough flashes of speed from the new F2005 to believe that it will be challenging for victories soon.

And despite the gearbox and hydraulic problems that blighted the debut of Ferrari's new car in Bahrain, Lauda is well aware that it is easier for a team to make a fast car reliable, than make a reliable car fast.

"The only problem Ferrari still has is easy to repair: the durability and reliability of the new car," said Lauda in German publication Kicker. "One can test and test and test until all the parts keep going and then one knows. And Ferrari also still has two weeks until Imola."

Schumacher is currently 24 points adrift of World Championship leader Fernando Alonso in the title chase and it is a gap that is not going to be easy to close down. No driver in the history of the World Championship has ever had such a deficit and come back to win the title.

Lauda believes that it will be crucial for Ferrari to start closing in on Alonso, however, and is adamant that they cannot afford to lose any further ground.

"Even if Schumacher should win each race starting from Imola and Alonso each time finished second, it will still take 12 races before Schumacher draws even with Alonso.

"But Michael will not win 12 consecutive races and Alonso will not finish second 12 times. However, the maths show that if Schumacher and Ferrari do not win soon then it will be too hard to catch my friend Flavio Briatore."

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