Preview: Ferrari Hope F2005 is a Winner

Michael Schumacher hopes Ferrari's new Formula One car can put him back on the winning track and end Renault's run of success in Bahrain this weekend

Preview: Ferrari Hope F2005 is a Winner

"The two screwed up races at the beginning of the season are just more of a motivation for us," the seven-times World Champion, a winner at the desert circuit last year, told his personal website. "Everyone is motivated, everyone is ready to go. We will work on taking back the lead step by step, don't worry."

With just two points from the first two races, Schumacher and the as-yet unraced F2005 have plenty of ground to make up. Spaniard Fernando Alonso leads the Championship with 16 points and his Renault team top the constructors' standings with 26.

Ferrari, rocked by stunning defeats in Australia and Malaysia, have pressed the new car into service two races ahead of schedule after trailing dismally at the last race in Sepang. Reliability will be the big question mark now, particularly in the Middle Eastern heat, even if the car is far more competitive in practice.

Ferrari have a proud record going back to 1999 of winning their new car's first race but Bahrain could break that six-year streak. Renault have the momentum.

"It will most likely not be an easy race for us but then again, most races aren't easy," said Schumacher. "I'm happy to take on the challenge."

Renault Confident

So too are Renault, who can win three races in a row for the first time in their Formula One history. The team have welcomed Ferrari's decision to debut the new car in Bahrain, seeing it as a sign that the champions are rattled.

"I still think we are a step ahead," said Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, the winner of the season's opening race in Melbourne.

"Before Melbourne we said we were going there to win and we won. The same thing happened in Malaysia. The Renault showed it was better. If the car is working well, it works well everywhere. Ferrari have a lot of fans but an Italian fan should support an Italian driver, even if he drives a foreign car."

If the Renaults can maintain their supremacy then Alonso should be Fisichella's biggest rival but the French team are wary of others.

"Our success in the opening races has obviously increased the weight of expectation but we are taking nothing for granted at all," said technical director Bob Bell. "As soon as McLaren put together an incident-free race weekend, I still believe they will be our main opposition among the Michelin teams.

"Williams made a step forward between Australia and Malaysia while we need to see if Toyota can confirm their speed at this race," he added. "Don't forget that we have only had two races out of 19, so we are still trying to draw conclusions from a very small sample of data."

McLaren will be depending on Finland's Kimi Raikkonen, who has scored just one point so far, to improve their showing in the standings.

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Series Formula 1
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Author Alan Baldwin
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