SAO PAULO: World champion Michael Schumacher is confident his trusty 'old' Ferrari F2002 will hold the key to the outcome of the Brazilian Grand Prix here on Sunday.
The German five-times champion has endured his worst start to a Formula One season since entering the Grand Prix arena in 1991 after failing to finish on the podium in the two opening races in Australia and Malaysia.
But Schumacher believes the reliability of the F2002, which he powered to a record-equalling fifth world title last year, will help Ferrari return to winning ways at Interlagos.
“In our F2002 we have a really reliable car, a crucial factor in Brazil,” Schumacher said.
“We will fight for victory and start the weekend with the opinion that we have every chance of winning.
“Our old car still has potential and that has been proved by its performances in the early races when we had the fastest car in the field.”
Traditional rivals McLaren have won both Grands Prix with David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen claiming a win each in Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur respectively.
Schumacher, however, points out that in going to Brazil after a disappointment this year he is only repeating the scenario of 12 months ago when his brother, Williams driver Ralf, won at Sepang.
He is hoping for a repeat of the dominant Ferrari triumph at the Interlagos circuit last year when he led his team-mate Rubens Barrichello home in a classic scarlet 1-2 with Coulthard almost a minute behind in third.
Schumacher's record here is impeccable after finishing in the points on all 11 visits to the track. He has won the event four times and his fifth place finish in 1997 is the only time he has not stood on the podium.
On the other hand, his Ferrari teammate Barrichello remains desperate to claim an emotional victory in front of a sell-out home crowd in Sao Paulo.
Barrichello claimed Ferrari's best result of the season to date with second place behind Raikkonen in Malaysia and believes he is in the form to make this year his own special one in Brazil.
“I don't want to promise the Brazilian fans anything, but I do feel on form at the moment,” Barrichello insisted.
“I know that one day or another I will get a victory here in Brazil. All I can do is work hard and hopefully that win will come to this time.”
Championship leaders McLaren will continue to use last year's car, which has served them so well in the opening two races, as Raikkonen looks to build on his maiden success by scoring his first points finish in Brazil.
Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya started from pole in the race in 2002 and was denied a likely victory the previous year when Arrows' Jos Verstappen collided with him.
He returns in confident mood.
Montoya said: “My intention is to make up for the victory that slipped through my hands in 2001.”
The race will be the first home Grand Prix for Brazilian rookies Cristiano Da Matta, of Toyota, and Jaguar's Antonio Pizzonia. It will also mark the 200th Grand Prix start of the Jordan team, who have yet to score a point this season. – AFP