Schumacher Confident for Sepang

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher expects to blast back into the points in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix after drawing a blank in the Australian season-opener

Schumacher Confident for Sepang

"Sure, zero points in the first race were not what I had hoped for," the seven-times Formula One World Champion said on his personal website. "And that makes me even more determined to do better in Malaysia."

Schumacher, winner of 13 of last season's 18 races, retired from the March 6 race in Melbourne after a collision with the Williams of fellow-German Nick Heidfeld.

The Champion's qualifying was wrecked by a Saturday downpour and he started 18th after having an engine change. Renault's Italian Giancarlo Fisichella won the race from pole position.

Schumacher saw reasons to be optimistic, however.

"After what we saw in Australia we are definitely able to compete with our interim car, even more so than we thought we," he said.

"So I think we can expect to do quite well in Sepang and achieve a good result. After all, Rubens showed what's possible even after a qualifying session that didn't go too well. Our performance during the race was quite consistent, so I'm still confident."

While Schumacher's low starting position and retirement produced his worst start to a season, Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello finished second after starting 11th.

That result raised spirits at Ferrari, who have decided to start their title defence with a modified version of last year's car while they test the new F2005.

Malaysia will be a far tougher challenge, with high humidity levels and sweltering temperatures, but Ferrari have won at Sepang more times than any other team. Schumacher will be chasing his fourth win there.

The German has been in Malaysia on vacation since the Australian race, working out every day and playing soccer with villagers near his hotel.

"We all know Malaysia is one of the races that is physically toughest on drivers, so nobody can afford to just hang about," he said.

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