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Last Updated: Monday, 26 January, 2004, 12:04 GMT
Schumacher expects battle
Michael Schumacher poses with the new Formula One Ferrari
Ferrari face a race against time to get the new car ready
World champion Michael Schumacher has unveiled the new Formula One Ferrari saying he is expecting another tough battle for the Formula One crown.

The German knows he faces renewed challenges from rivals at McLaren and Williams this season.

"This season will be very much like last year with first one team ahead and then another," said Schumacher.

"We will just have to see who is ahead at the end but at Ferrari we are determined to continue our success."

The F2004 will be tested in Italy next month, with the team expecting it to be ready for the start of the season in Melbourne on 7 March.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn denied that the car was late - major rivals Williams and McLaren have been running their cars for weeks.

"The car is not late; in fact we have actually met the targets we set and we would hope it will be finished for the first race. But we might get a surprise which means something will happen," Brawn said.

"We wanted to make sure we made a good step forward on last year's car so we delayed ending the concept of the car as long as possible before we had to start making the pieces."

"If we have a catastrophe then we would have to reconsider but it would be a hell of a task to get the old car ready with the new regulations," Brawn added.

Ferrari have been on top since 1999 and we will do whatever we need to win
Luca di Montezemolo
Ferrari president
The car looked similar to last year's F2003-GA, but chief designer Rory Byrne said it would feature a number of new parts by the time of the first race.

"There will be fairly substantial changes to the aerodynamic components particularly," he said.

"The things that will be obvious will be the front wing, turning vanes and the aerodynamics at the rear of the car. Those will be introduced during February, as soon as possible obviously.

"The reason they are not on there yet is fundamentally because we have pushed the development as hard as possible and we're still making the pieces," added Byrne.

Ferrari are believed to be at a disadvantage heading into the new season as their Bridgestone tyres appear to be less competitive than the Michelins used by Williams, McLaren and Renault.

Schumacher added: "People were saying we were dead during the winter and writing us off.

Ferrari test driver Luca Badoers, president Luca di Montezemolo, Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo poses with his drivers
"But here we are still alive and kicking and we plan on being around for a long-time yet."

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo aims to extend the team's run of success in the manufacturers' championship to six seasons but admitted they faced a tough battle.

"Ferrari have been on top since 1999 and we will do whatever we need to win," added Di Montezemolo.

"But we know 2004 is going to be a difficult year but I just hope like last year it will have the same conclusion.

"Last year we started the season missing some opportunities and this year we need to have the commitment from the start.

"But we are well aware of the strength of our competitors. Every major car manufacturer is involved with the exception of GM and the VW group and they want to win."

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