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Schumacher warns against writing off Ferrari

Former Formula One champion Michael Schumacher says Ferrari should never be written off, even though his former team has not won a point in the first three races this season.

"We recognize the situation but we are not giving up," said Schumacher, who is still employed by Ferrari as an adviser. "Ferrari never did that in the past. You should never write off Ferrari," Schumacher said in an interview with the German news agency DPA yesterday. "That's the good thing about Formula One, there is no time for frustration, you always look ahead head."

But Schumacher conceded that there may not be much Ferrari can do to improve the performance of its current car, since the use of the wind tunnel and computer simulations has been limited by new cost-cutting regulations.

"Before, we would do double, triple shifts, but this year it's not possible," the German said.

At some point, Schumacher said, the team will have to decide whether to continue trying to improve the car or start early on next season's model.

Schumacher said the most successful teams so far, Brawn GP and Red Bull, had started work on the present car very early. Brawn cars won the first two races and their success should not be attributed solely to the diffuser, Schumacher said.

"The reliability of their cars is the most astonishing thing I've ever seen," the German said in the interview conducted in his Swiss residence.

Another reason for the success of so-called "small teams" is that "they are not so much smaller anymore. They've built structures that are no different from the top teams. They've closed the gap," Schumacher said.

Speaking about his own future with Ferrari, Schumacher said a decision on whether he would extend his contract was unlikely before the end of summer. His contract as adviser expires at the end of the year.

"There have not been any signals from either side, because there have been no concrete talks and there won't be any in the near future. I think we will talk after the summer about what makes sense and what not," the seven-time champion said.

Schumacher came under fire in Italy for some questionable decisions in the early races.

"The fact is that we made decisions that were wrong," Schumacher said. "I, too, made the wrong estimate, no doubt. It's one thing to sit in the car and observe things or to do it from the box."

Ferrari's Brazilian driver Felipe Massa however hopes this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix could mark a turnaround for the struggling team.

"I have always gone well at the Sakhir circuit, winning for the last two years, so I hope this is a good sign," Massa said on Ferrari's Website. "We tested here during the winter and the car was not too bad to be honest, and the tires seemed to suit the package we have.

"I really do expect to be more competitive, especially if we have KERS, as it should be a significant advantage at this track," Massa said, referring to the system which stores energy generated in braking so it can be used at the push of a button to provide a short power boost.

The team abandoned it following the Malaysian Grand Prix.


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