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Last Updated: Monday, 5 April, 2004, 09:55 GMT 10:55 UK
Ferrari are 'streets ahead'
Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello lead the field at the Bahrain Grand Prix
Lap one in Bahrain and Ferrari already have a comfortable lead
Ferrari are close to unbeatable for the foreseeable future, one of the bosses of the rival BMW Williams team says.

Michael Schumacher has won all three of the season's opening races and already has a commanding championship lead.

"In race trim, Ferrari apparently are still in a class of their own," said BMW motorsport boss Mario Theissen.

"We are working hard and I hope we can repeat what we did last year," added the German, whose team challenged strongly in 2003 after a slow start.

Williams have been Ferrari's closest challengers so far this year, and Theissen refused to rule out the prospect of winning a race soon.

He said weather conditions at the first three races had played into the hands of Ferrari and their tyre supplier Bridgestone.

Temperatures in Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain were all lower than expected, and this may have played against the Michelin tyres used by Williams and Ferrari's other main rivals BAR, Renault and McLaren.

We deeply believe that the others will catch up strongly and we'd better be prepared
Michael Schumacher
"Currently, I think it is more about how the tyres suit the weather conditions than how the car suits the track," Theissen said.

The next race is the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, which Schumacher has won four times in the last five years - the sole exception being a triumph by Williams driver Ralf Schumacher in 2002.

Theissen said: "Looking forward to Imola, the main issue is temperature in my view. We have had some strong races in Imola as well so generally the track should suit us."

Michael Schumacher is refusing to get carried away, despite an increasing sense in Formula One that the sport is in for a repeat of 2002, when Ferrari won 15 of the 17 races.

"We deeply believe that the others will catch up strongly and we'd better be prepared, otherwise have the same situation as last year," he said.

"And we'd rather finish a bit more comfortably than last season."

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