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  Friday, 31 January, 2003, 11:41 GMT
Williams launch new car
Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher unveil the FW25
Montoya (left) and Schumacher unveil the FW25
Williams-BMW boss Sir Frank Williams is confident his team can spearhead the challenge to Ferrari this season.

Williams helped unveil his 2003 challenger at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona on Friday, saying the team had learnt lessons last year.

The Oxfordshire-based outfit had high hopes of battling for the drivers' and manufacturers' titles in 2002 but could only win one race as Ferrari dominated.

The most important thing will be getting the car working for the first lap in qualifying

Juan Pablo Montoya

Williams, however, hopes the new FW25 - with its redesigned chassis and more powerful BMW engine - will help close the gap.

"In 2002 we had a tough year but it taught us a lot of lessons," he said.

"In 2003 we are optimistic because we have got a good product and we want to see if it's as good as the best.

"BMW and Williams are very impatient companies. This year we have set ourselves high targets but we want to reach and maybe exceed those targets."

Williams technical director Patrick Head said a lot of work had been done to improve the aerodynamics of the car.

"The chassis derives little from previous cars," said Head.

"The approach has relied less on iteration, and instead has called for the generation of new ideas.

"2002 showed us that our chassis was a model of reliability, but that there's still room for improvement particularly on the aerodynamic front.

"Thats why the FW25 is a completely new race car."

The team announced that it had carried out a "root and branch assessment" of its relationship with BMW in an attempt to improve co-operation.

And it said talks were still on-going with the German car giant over extending the five-year partnership beyond 2004.

Former F1 driver Gerhard Berger, now head of motorsport at BMW, said: "We are looking at possible scenarios over the future of BMW in F1.

"I'd like to see a longer-term partnership with Williams - I would say they are in pole position.

"But everybody knows how hard it is to negotiate with Frank so we will see what comes out of it."

Drivers Ralf Schumacher, who scored Williams' only win last year, and Juan Pablo Montoya are set to give the FW25 its first test at the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday.

Colombian Montoya - unable to win despite starting on pole seven times last season - admits the new one-off qualifying lap rule means he will have to change his approach.

"I think it will be good, but the most important thing will be getting the car working for the first lap," said Montoya, who launches his bid for the drivers' title in Melbourne on 9 March.

"That was my weakest part last year, the first few runs, when the balance was not as good."

See also:

13 Feb 03 | Formula One
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