Opponents react to new Ferrari

Despite the new Ferrari F2003-GA locking out the front row of the Spanish Grand Prix grid on its competition debut, its chief rivals are not running scared.

Opponents react to new Ferrari

Even though McLaren's David Coulthard is starting today's race from eighth on the grid and Kimi Raikkonen is starting from the rear of the grid after going off on his one-shot qualifying lap, team boss Ron Dennis said: "I think people's perception of our state is coloured by our grid position whereas I'd prefer that it was influenced by our finishing position.

"We think that the MP4-17D is capable of competing with and being more competitive than anything other than the new Ferrari. Against the old one it tended to go back and forwards with the tyre situation and we knew that sooner of later they would come with the new car. We took the decision to delay the MP4-18 because we felt we needed more than just an incremental step and as the world championship unfolds we will see if our strategy was correct. We are quite optimistic of being able to compete. We are not panicking."

The new Ferrari's straightline speed escaped nobody, with Rubens Barrichello going through the speed trap fully 9kph quicker than the fastest non-Ferrari, which was Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren. Straightline speed is a function of a car's aerodynamic efficiency as well as its engine power, of course. The BMW engine is known to be very strong but Ralf Schumacher's speed trap time was 313.4kph as against Barrichello's 325.4kph.

Commenting on the Ferrari's speed, which contributed to a significantly quicker sector one time than anyone else, BMW's motorsport director Mario Theissen said: "The only reason I can see is aerodynamic efficiency. If I thought it was the engine I wouldn't have the time to be sitting here talking to you now!"

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