World champion pleasantly surprised by F2004 M's pace
Ferraris performance in Melbourne was far better than Michael Schumacher had expected, despite his crashing out of the Australian Grand Prix whilst in only eighth place.
Schumacher started 18th on the grid after falling prey to the weather in qualifying and then struggled to rise through the field in the opening stages of the race. He moved into a point-scoring position shortly before his collision with the Williams of Nick Heidfeld on lap 42.
However, in spite of his misfortune, the German insisted he was encouraged by the teams overall showing with their interim F2004 M car, which saw them come away with eight points. Renault, with their all-new R25 machine, took 16.
Everybody knew that Renault were very good, Schumacher said. It was clear after the winter tests and so I wasnt surprised at all. But to be completely honest, I thought we would have been much further back.
The fact that Rubens (Barrichello), from 11th, ended in second, is the proof that last years model is still very competitive. This gives me a good feeling for the next few races. I thought we would have been less competitive.
Schumacher warned, though, that it would be dangerous to make any firm predictions on the basis of one race, especially the Australian one: We have to take into account that the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne is not really a track on which you can judge the relative strengths of the different teams.
Ferrari are expected to introduce their new F2005 car at May's Spanish Grand Prix in May, though an earlier debut has not been ruled out if testing goes well.