Schumacher Inspired by Toyota

World Champion Michael Schumacher believes that Toyota's incredible rise to form in the Malaysian Grand Prix should act as encouragement for his own Ferrari team, after their dramatic struggles at the start of the 2005 season

Schumacher Inspired by Toyota

In the wake of his disappointing form in both the Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix, which has left Schumacher with just two points compared to leader Fernando Alonso's 16, the seven-times champion is keeping a brave face on the situation.

And although it appears that Ferrari's new F2005 will need to be a dramatic step forward over the team's current car if it is to stand any chance of taking the fight to title favourites Renault, Schumacher has taken heart from the dramatic manner in which Toyota have hit form.

The Japanese manufacturer had looked set for more disappointment this season after failing to hit form in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, but they hit back in style in Malaysia with Jarno Trulli roaring to the team's first ever F1 podium following another front-row start.

Schumacher, when asked after Sunday's race if he really believed Ferrari could close the gap to Renault, said: "Well, if Toyota can reduce the distance to almost nothing here, for example, why should we not be able to do likewise?"

Schumacher is on his way back from Malaysia to Italy to take part in his first test with the new Ferrari F2005 at Mugello in Italy - well aware that the team may be able to draft the car into action for the next race in Bahrain if he is happy with it.

However, Schumacher is not building his hopes up too much - and says he is more than ready to accept continuing with the F2004M if the team feel the F2005 is not yet full ready.

"I have never considered a possible debut of the car in Bahrain to be an emergency plan," he said. "Since the car was revealed, there was so much speculation about its eventual debut, even before it was tested for its very first lap! From that perspective, every speculation is unrealistic.

"Introducing the F2005 depends on many questions to be answered - and mainly the one about the unfolding of the test program. Having said that, it is no secret that we have the possibility to introduce the F2005 earlier than anticipated  if the testing program goes on running as smoothly as it has so far.

"The fact is that we would like to race it as soon as possible, but if it is not ready for the third round then we have to live with that. It will be very difficult to have it race fit for Bahrain already."

And despite how bleak his title hopes will look if Ferrari cannot turn their form around, Schumacher needs no reminding that there are still 17 races to go this year.

"The championship consists of 19 races and only two of them are run now," he said. "I always figured that Sepang would be the most difficult for us and that is now behind us. So let us see how things are after five or six grands prix. If we are still behind at that point, then it could become critical, but not today.

"Things are tough for us, that much is true, but they are not hopeless."

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