MELBOURNE: Michael Schumacher is looking to the Malaysian Grand Prix in a fortnight's time for a true gauge after Ferrari's dazzling start to the Formula One season here on Sunday.
The six-time world champion blasted away his rivals with an all-the-way victory in the Australian Grand Prix to leave the F1 world wondering just what is going to stop Schumacher and his all-conquering Ferrari team.
Schumacher eased off the throttle four laps from home to beat teammate Rubens Barrichello by 13.6 seconds after leading by as much as 24 seconds at one stage.
Barrichello was equally as dominant in the second Ferrari car despite braking problems to be some 20 seconds ahead of Renault's rising young Spaniard Fernando Alonso in third place.
But the German F1 king points to the heat of Malaysia as a better guide to Ferrari's chances of landing a fifth straight constructors' title this year after Ferrari's Bridgestone tyres adapted well to the cool Melbourne conditions on Sunday.
“Malaysia will show the true picture to what it is now, because it is ideal for us (here) and maybe not so ideal for our competitors and their tyres and cars, “ Schumacher said after his 71st GP victory, 52 with Ferrari.
“As it is not optimum for us in Malaysia that shows us where we're going to be.
“If we can compete there then we are going to be looking very strong, but if we hang in behind then maybe it will be more tough.”
Schumacher was awesome in Melbourne, controlling the race from the start and carving a massive three-and-a-half seconds off the lap record, establishing a new time of 1:24.125.
“I'm in the best team that's around, we have a fantastic atmosphere, it's Ferrari and I have nothing to win anymore, to some degree – but I just love the sport,” he said.
Ferrari's much superior performance in Australia has worried rival teams with his younger brother, Ralf, at Williams-BMW, saying how surprised he was with the gap with Ferrari.
“I didn't expect this and I believe this is down mainly to the design of their car as well as to some tyre graining for us, which we have to overcome,” Ralf Schumacher said.
“The whole of our package needs to improve slightly and this is going to take maybe a couple of races, but I am confident we can make it.”
Summing up the weekend's racing, chief team engineer San Michael said: “Our performance today was not really enough compared to Ferrari or Renault but it is far from a bad result either.
“We have got both cars in the points and we come away from Australia with second place in the championship. Now we are looking forward to the hot tracks in Malaysia and Bahrain.”
McLaren had a disastrous weekend with David Coulthard gleaning just one point out of his eighth placing in Sunday's race.
“It's early in the season, one race, and we know what our weaknesses are, and they'll be addressed as speedily as possible,” team principal Ron Dennis said. – AFP