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Brawn attributes Ferrari win to Bridgestone 22 Mar 2004

Worn Bridgestone tyres on race winner Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari F2004.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Race Day, Rd 2, Sepang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 21 March 2004 Ross Brawn (GBR) Ferrari Technical Director.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Sepang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 18 March 2004 Rear tyre detail on the Ferrari F2004.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Sepang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 18 March 2004 bargeboard detail on the Ferrari F2004.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Sepang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 18 March 2004 Race winner Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari F2004 on the podium.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Race Day, Rd 2, Sepang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 21 March 2004

Ferrari’s technical director Ross Brawn has admitted that the team’s Malaysian Grand Prix victory was thanks in large part to the improvement in performance of their Bridgestone tyres.

In 2002 Ferrari won at the opening round in Australia only to lose out to Michelin runners Williams in the much higher temperatures at Sepang two weeks later. Many had predicted the same would happen this season, but Bridgestone’s hard work over the winter preparing for the extreme heat of Malaysia appeared to have paid off on Sunday.

Though track temperatures were relatively cool (low 40s Celsius as opposed to 50 plus earlier in the weekend), and though Michelin arguably had the quicker tyre overall (fastest lap went comfortably to Juan Pablo Montoya), Bridgestone’s gain was enough to ensure Michael Schumacher took pole position and the ten points at Sepang.

"A great race and in some ways, being able to win here means more than the win in Australia because of the conditions,” said Brawn. “I think Bridgestone has done a fantastic job. When you think back to our performance in previous years then really this win is down to them.

“It was certainly a tough race - the tyres were good in different parts of the session but very good towards the end of each sector and Michael was able to build a gap when he needed to. We've got a tough year ahead of us but [today's win] is a good sign and it was great to win in these conditions."

Bridgestone Motorsport’s Technical Manager Hisao Suganuma was delighted with the performance and warned that Michelin could now expect the Japanese company’s rubber to be competitive no matter what the conditions.

"A fantastic sight to see Michael on the top spot of the podium - it really showed that the Bridgestone tyre performance was consistent and quick in these tough conditions,” he said. “Track temperatures were in the forties and still we had a strong performance.

“We understand there is still need to improve and we shall work hard and continue to bring new compounds to further races. However, there is no doubt that this week was a turning point – our rivals can expect us to be strong this year even if we have a scorching European summer.”

Michelin, meanwhile, hinted that the cooler than expected conditions may have affected them somewhat, but drew consolation from having four of their partner teams finish in the points, including two on the podium.

“Temperatures in the race were not quite as high as we had anticipated but the two dry-weather compounds we chose continued to deliver consistent performance, just as they have all weekend,” said Pascal Vasselon, Michelin’s F1 programme manager.

Michelin also dominated the fastest lap list . Montoya’s new record of 1m 34.223s was over half a second quicker than Michael Schumacher’s best, while Jenson Button, Jarno Trulli and Kimi Raikkonen were all close behind the world champion. Rubens Barrichello, sixth fastest on the harder Bridgestone compound, was the Japanese company's next best runner.