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Ralf lauds new Bahrain International Circuit 17 Dec 2003

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams in the post-qualifying FIA press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Hungarian Grand Prix, Hungaroring, Hungary, 23 August 2003

Ralf Schumacher became the first Formula One driver to lap the new Bahrain International Circuit on Tuesday and the Williams driver came away convinced that the new venue should throw up some exciting racing when it hosts its first Grand Prix next April.

"From my drive around this circuit it is obvious that it will be fast, challenging and very demanding," said Schumacher, who made his tour at the wheel of a BMW road car. "It has a combination of slow and very fast corners with a very, very long straight.

"The most important thing in Formula One is overtaking and today I have seen three opportunities for that, so this will be great fun for us, the drivers but also for the fans to watch.

"My only concern is sand getting onto the track, but the circuit officials have promised to build a high grip surface to avoid such problems."

Construction of the new circuit is continuing apace with engineers working around the clock to ensure that the 5.475 km track is ready in time for the inaugural Grand Prix of Bahrain, due to take place on April 4, 2004.

"This was the first time I have been to a racetrack at this stage of construction and I found the experience extremely interesting," added Schumacher. "There is clearly a lot of work being done and I think the Bahrainis are building a very exciting track."

Before leaving Bahrain, Schumacher held a press conference and then went on to join members of the local media and Williams team sponsors for a special pit stop competition.