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Ferrari's new car to debut in Bahrain

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Last updated on: March 24, 2005 22:07 IST

Formula One champions Ferrari decided to bring forward the race debut of their new car to Bahrain on April 3 after Renault ran away with the first two Grands Prix of the season.

"We'll take two new cars to Bahrain," said a Ferrari spokesman after a meeting at the Maranello factory on Thursday.

"We have all the parts. We will need to work a lot but everything will be ready for the race."

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Images: The Malaysian GP

Ferrari had planned to debut the F2005 in Spain in May, the fifth round of the season, after starting with a modified version of the title-winning F2004 that triumphed in 15 of 18 races last year.

Renault's early season form and the F2004's obvious lack of relative pace forced their hand, with seven-times champion Michael Schumacher testing the car for the first time at the Mugello circuit on Wednesday.

Renault lead the constructors' championship with 26 points while Ferrari have 10.

Schumacher failed to finish the season-opener in Australia and was seventh in Malaysia. He has two points compared to Spaniard Fernando Alonso's 16.

Ferrari had no driver on the podium at Sepang and have not won for three races in a row, if last year's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix is included.


"The Mugello test, where both race drivers were able to drive the F2005 for the first time, confirmed its potential," Italy's ANSA news agency quoted team chief Jean Todt as saying.

"The poor results of the first two races have given us a positive stimulus.

"Together with [tyre supplier] Bridgestone, we have decided to speed up the development programme and believe that various new elements, car and tyres, will allow us to get back to attacking form after two races on the defensive.

"I have to say I am very pleased with how the team and all our partners have reacted to try and return quickly to our true level of competitiveness."

Ferrari had to make a snap decision on the new car this week because of new regulations penalising any driver who changes an engine before it has done two successive races.

The engine in the old F2004 cannot be switched to the new car, meaning that Ferrari would otherwise have had to wait until the fifth round to change cars without suffering a 10-place penalty for both drivers on the starting grid.

Both Schumacher and Brazilian Rubens Barrichello gave their seal of approval of the new car after flying back from Malaysia to test it.

"The most important thing is that the new car shows that it's good and it's fast. And this car did both right away," he said on Wednesday.

The main concern for Ferrari now will be reliability. Technical director Ross Brawn has said he expects the F2005 to be about a second faster than the old car.

Renault head Flavio Briatore said in Malaysia that he is not concerned by the threat the new Ferrari could pose, welcoming its hurried introduction.

"It means we are putting them under some pressure," said the Italian. "I will be very happy if they have the car all ready for Bahrain."


Alan Baldwin
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