Schu expects tough fight

Michael Schumacher believes Ferrari will face a stern challenge in the opening rounds of this year's world championship as it pits its modified 2004 chassis (adapted to the 2005 technical regulations) against a host of brand new cars fielded by its major rivals

Schu expects tough fight

During testing at Barcelona over the last few days the world champion has set some impressively competitive times in the F2004M, only a few tenths slower than Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer in the higher-downforce 2004 model.

The German delivered a cautiously optimistic verdict on the 'M', but stressed that Ferrari does not yet have a reliable reference point from other teams against which to gauge performance.

"It's good, but how good we will only tell in Melbourne when we have a real comparison," he said, "because at the moment we all have uncertainties as to what the other teams are doing, as in what tyres they are running."

Schumacher added that he does not expect an easy time of it in the early-season races, since the F2004M will have less scope for performance gains than the state-of-the-art 2005 cars.

"I think it is going to be quite tough for us," he said. "We will arrive with a car which has reached its maximum. We know the car very well while other teams will arrive with new cars. Therefore they have to learn about their cars and they still have one month to improve. I am sort of...aware of the tough challenge we will face - but it is not an impossible one."

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