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We're back, say Ferrari and Schumacher
Alan Baldwin | March 13, 2006 10:47 IST
After a year in the wilderness, Ferrari trumpeted their return to the ranks of Formula One front-runners in the Bahrain desert on Sunday.
Even if they did not win, the sport's most successful team came away from the opening race brimming with confidence.
Michael Schumacher took a record-equalling pole position on an all-Ferrari front row and ran in the lead for much of the afternoon before finishing runner-up, 1.2 seconds behind Renault's world champion Fernando Alonso.
It was a far cry from the miseries of 2005. Then, seven times champion Schumacher was rarely competitive and won only the six-car U.S. Grand Prix fiasco after dominating the previous year with 13 victories.
"It was obviously very frustrating to have come so close to winning a race but after the season we had last year, we can take a great deal of encouragement from today's performance," said technical director Ross Brawn.
Schumacher, disappointed not to secure an unprecedented 85th victory, also counted his blessings in a news conference.
"If you think where we had been last year, and you see what has happened over the winter, if somebody had told us we would finish second in this race we would have been absolutely happy about it," he said.
"And we honestly are happy. It's eight points. It's just two down. A victory is always nicer, no doubt."
"Good result, good work from the team -- a reliable car, a fast car. It's very promising for the rest of the season, good fun and good racing," added the German.
Schumacher felt he might indeed have won on Sunday had it not been for an aborted lap in Saturday qualifying.
The only sour note was Brazilian Felipe Massa failing to score points on his Ferrari debut.
Massa's race was wrecked when he spun on lap eight, narrowly missing Alonso's Renault as he skidded sideways past the Spaniard.
There was confusion in the Ferrari pits when Massa pitted as mechanics struggled to remove the rear right tyre with a faulty pneumatic wheel gun.
The Brazilian was kept waiting 46.8 seconds before rejoining the race among the tailenders. He finished ninth.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage