Decision time for new Ferrari 22 Mar 2005
The Ferrari F2005 could make its race debut at the next round in Bahrain, if this weeks testing of the car goes well, with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello due to get behind the wheel for the first time.
Ferrari had not planned to introduce the F2005 until the Spanish Grand Prix at the start of May, but a poor start to the season by their standards they have scored just ten points from the first two races has forced the champions to reconsider their options.
Their final decision will depend not just on Schumachers and Barrichellos feedback on the new car, but also on whether Ferrari feel it will be significantly faster than the F2004 M - at least enough to justify the potential reliability risks of an early introduction.
Schumacher came home seventh in Malaysia and Barrichello failed to finish. If we lose the race, and feel the difference could have been made up by the car, then it could accelerate the introduction of the (new) car, technical director Ross Brawn had said before the race.
What is unclear is whether it was the F2004M that was to blame for Ferraris lack of pace at Sepang or its Bridgestone tyres. Either way, the team must choose their car and choose fast if they are to use the F2005 at the next round on April 3.
Around the middle of the week we will have to make a decision because the car will have to leave for Bahrain next weekend, said Brawn, who is eager the get the feedback of his two race drivers following positive first tests by Luca Badoer.
Badoer resumed testing the car at Mugello on Monday and his team mates are expected to join him on Wednesday. Schumacher for one is eager to try out the new machine: I have learnt a lot about the car from our test driver Luca Badoer. Now I am just pleased to be able to try it out in person. The first time is always exciting.
Of course, as Ferrari bid to close the gap on their rivals, those rivals will also be pushing forward with their own development programmes, with testing due to take place at Barcelona and Paul Ricard this week. Among the teams expected on track are Williams, McLaren, Toyota and Renault.