World champion prepares to fight back at Sakhir
Michael Schumacher will be relying on the new Ferrari F2005 to get his championship defence back on track in Bahrain this weekend. Schumacher lies a lowly 11th in the standings after the opening two races and trails leader Fernando Alonso by 14 points.
However, with technical director Ross Brawn suggesting the new Ferrari should be half a second to a second a lap faster than its predecessor, Schumacher hopes to be very much back on the pace at the demanding Sakhir circuit.
It goes without saying that I'm excited and very much looking forward to this premiere," said the German, who only tested the F2005 for the first time last week and then took the unusual step of personally shaking down the two chassis to be used in Bahrain, a routine task normally carried out by test drivers.
"We were highly focused on our work all week and were able to collect lots of important data, he added. Therefore, we now have some very good and very up-to-date information that we can carefully analyze."
Schumacher took pole position and victory in last years inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix, but the champion knows he will have his work cut out if he is to repeat that feat this weekend, even with the new car.
"After having been there for the first time last year, we all know what to expect at that circuit," he said. "It will most likely not be an easy race for us, but then again, most races aren't easy. I'm happy to take on the challenge."
Schumacher is already facing his toughest title defence since 2003, when he lost the first three grands prix of the season. That year he scored eight points from the opening two races, whereas this season he has taken just two.