Schumacher more determined than ever 15 Mar 2005
World champion Michael Schumacher insists his retirement at round one in Australia has only hardened his resolve to score a stronger result at this weekends Malaysian Grand Prix.
Schumacher crashed out in Melbourne on lap 42 following a collision with compatriot Nick Heidfeld, but the German was buoyed by team mate Rubens Barrichellos strong drive through the field to second and is confident he has the pace to challenge for victory at Sepang, where he has won three times in the last five years.
"For sure, zero points in the season's first race is not what I expected, he said. "This, naturally, will give me an extra boost in Malaysia. From what we saw in Australia, the F2004 M was still competitive, much more than thought possible.
I think that we can expect a positive result in Sepang. Rubens proved that it is possible to finish highly even after a so-so qualifying session. I have faith because we were very consistent in the Grand Prix."
Neither Schumacher nor Barrichello returned to Europe following the Australian race, instead leaving testing duties to Luca Badoer and Marc Gene. Schumacher chose to spend a few days with wife Corrina and his manager Willi Weber, while Barrichello returned to his native Sao Paulo. Both men, of course, maintained their strict training regimes in preparation for the rigours of the Malaysian heat.
Like his team mate, Barrichello too is confident for the Sepang race, though he admitted that the new one engine-two weekend rule could make life interesting, especially since Schumacher changed engine in Melbourne, putting the two drivers on slightly different schedules for Malaysia.
In a way, people are having to work for two races at a time, rather than working on the limit for one, so in Sepang we will see how the cars really perform, said the Brazilian. This is the real test. I have a certain mileage on my engine and I will have to look after it. It is an unknown for us.
Michael has less mileage on his engine so he will probably be able to run more laps in free practice. But we operate as a team at Ferrari and so that will be good for me too. Over the course of the year, managing the situation if me and Michael end up out of synchronisation in terms of whether we are doing our first or second race with the same engine will be an interesting situation.
Ferrari have a strong record at Sepang, with at least one car on the podium every year since the race joined the calendar in 1999. Last season Schumacher took victory with Barrichello finishing fourth.