SPORT

Schumacher to drive 2002 car in Brazil

SAO PAULO, March 29. Ferrari's decision to race its 2002 car in Brazil this weekend was beefed up because it had sensed a serious challenge from Williams, Michael Schumacher said.

The Formula-1 world champion, speaking to reporters at Interlagos, said he expected Williams to be Ferrari's main rival this season after that team's one-two finish at the last race in Malaysia.

Schumacher is due to give Ferrari's new F2002 its competitive debut on Sunday. It was left at home for the first two races due to concerns about reliability.

Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello will continue to use the tried and tested F2001. ``I think it's pretty simple, if we had been faster in Malaysia then we would have come here with three old cars,'' said Schumacher.

``We wouldn't probably have pushed that hard just to have one (new) car here. But because we have been so slow, we needed to push a little bit harder. Obviously we would be much more happy to have three new cars here but that has not been possible.''

Schumacher won the season-opening round in Australia in the old F2001 after nearly half the field went out in a first corner incident. He then took pole position in Malaysia but finished third after a clash with Williams' Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya at the first corner.

The incident allowed Schumacher's younger brother Ralf to run clear to victory, ahead of Montoya. McLaren, Ferrari's main rival for the past three seasons, failed to finish at Sepang and Briton David Coulthard, runner-up in 2001, has yet to score a point this year.

``What we see now is that Williams is stronger than McLaren, whether it will stay that way until the end or not we will find out,'' said Schumacher. ``My assumption is that yes it will. I think it will swing between us (Ferrari and Williams) from race to race.''

Last season's Brazilian Grand Prix favoured Williams the BMW-powered Williams. The team was clearly fastest and Montoya lead for more than half the race before a collision with Jos Verstappen.

McLaren's Coulthard won that race.

Schumacher, who has been in the top three 14 times in the last 17 races, can claim his 100th career podium finish this weekend. He has won the Brazilian Grand Prix three times previously and has a record 54 career wins. — Reuters

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