Sat, May 17, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Best yet to come from new car, Schumacher says

AFP , ZELTWEG, AUSTRIA

World champion Michael Schum-acher said here on Thursday that his new Ferrari F2003GA is yet to show its full potential ahead of this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix.

Ferrari debuted their new car at the Spanish Grand Prix 11 days ago and Schumacher won the race after a tough fight with Renault driver Fernando Alonso.

Its performance at the Circuit de Catalunya was not as dominant as had been expected after earlier predictions that the car would be three quarters of a second quicker than its predecessor, the F2002.

But Schumacher, who is chasing his hat-trick of victories this weekend after winning in San Marino and Barcelona already this season, said: "I believe that we couldn't show the true potential of the car and we will have better opportunities.

"We were quick enough, but looking at the weekend and studying the data and the times of the other competitors I was expecting a tough fight," he said

World championship leaders McLaren dropped out of the race early when Kimi Raikkonen hit the stationary Jaguar of Antonio Pizzonia on the grid and David Coulthard spun off early after colliding with Jenson Button's BAR.

That allowed Ferrari to move within three points of the championship lead and Schumacher believes that the new car's speed on its debut at Barcelona showed it will go well for the rest of the season.

"Barcelona is a circuit which shows the true potential of the car," Schumacher said.

"If it goes well there it is supposed to go well everywhere," he said.

"I think a lot of the performance there was in the tires and if you see in relation where Bridgestone runners had been over that weekend compared to the Michelins I think our car showed what it is able to do.

"I believe we have a very good car that should only go better, not worse," he said.

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