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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Ferrari face hard fight with McLaren

Ferrari face hard fight with McLaren

May 19, 2003 19:17 IST

Ferrari will have to play their cards right in Monte Carlo if Michael Schumacher is to return to the top of the Formula One world championship in two weeks' time.

Although the five times world champion won Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix for his third victory in a row this season, his Ferrari bosses left the A1-Ring knowing they have a hard fight on their hands with McLaren.

"We've got to do the business," said Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn.

"It's not the same as last year, by no means, so we've got a much tougher challenge ahead of us this year."

While Ferrari moved a point clear of McLaren in the constructors' championship, Finland's Kimi Raikkonen stayed two ahead of Schumacher in the drivers' title race after finishing runner-up in Spielberg.

This time last year, Schumacher was 27 points clear of the field after five wins from six races.

Monaco, where it is notoriously difficult to overtake, is next up and Briton David Coulthard won there for McLaren last year in a car that was clearly slower than Schumacher's.

Strategy, with new qualifying regulations in force on a revamped circuit, will be the key.

"Monaco's a more open race. I don't think it's quite so predictable. Even if you've got the fastest car in Monaco you won't necessarily win the race," said Brawn.

"It will be a big challenge. We lost the race last year even though we were clearly the fastest cars. Perhaps the new regulations will give us an opportunity."

"I actually think there's more potential for us to do well this year than last year."

While Ferrari have now won two out of two races with their new F2003-GA car, they need to force their advantage before McLaren bring out their new MP4-18 and raise their game as well.

The new car hits the test track at Le Castellet in southern France for the first time this week but its Grand Prix debut could be some way off still.

"I'd be amazed if they take their new car to Canada (the race after Monaco)," said Brawn. "They're running it next week for the first time and I don't think it's enough time before Canada."

"But I'm sure we'll see the car soon after that and I'm sure it'll be very good."

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