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Schumacher wins, but Jordan's not worried

3/22/2004

SEPANG, Malaysia -- Formula One has
nothing to fear even if Ferrari returns to its old ways and wins
race after race this season, according to team boss Eddie
Jordan.

Six-time world champion Michael Schumacher and Ferrari
passed the acid test in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix,
triumphant in a race that they had not won since 2001.

The thinking held that if Ferrari could win there this year,
they could win anywhere.

The circuit has in the past played more to the strengths of
rival tire supplier Michelin rather than Bridgestone and
Malaysia was to be a truer test of Ferrari's strength after a
runaway one-two win in the Australian season-opener.

If Sunday's evidence gave little comfort to opponents, then
Jordan saw no cause for concern.

"It is not at all a bad thing," declared the man who gave
Schumacher his first ride in 1991. "In fact I think it's a good
thing in some respects because it makes other people be more
aware."

"He's the best," the Irishman added. "He's the consummate
brilliant driver. In the same car, same situation and everything
Rubens (Barrichello) was fourth.

"It was a tight competition, the first four cars were very
close together. I don't see what all the commotion is about.
When Tiger Woods wins nine majors in a row or thereabouts,
everyone is singing his praises.

"Whereas in our sport we seem to be critical that the show
is impaired. And I don't see how that works," he said.

"We can all talk ourselves doom and gloom, we know that we
talked ourselves into a recession before and we're doing similar
things with our sport," said Jordan. "This is magic what is
happening. It is so competitive at the front of the grid, it's
just phenomenal."

Sunday's race was certainly closer than Australia, where
Ferrari were in a class of their own.

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, in a Williams, finished a
respectable five seconds adrift of the German after leading
during Schumacher's first pitstop and setting the fastest lap.

Mario Theissen, motorsport director of Williams' engine
partners BMW, tried to look on the bright side after a race his
team had won with a one-two finish in 2002.

"I think what we have seen today was quite encouraging," he
said. "Our team was really competitive, Juan Pablo was able to
go at Michael's speed from the first to final lap.

"Of course if you look across the season, Ferrari certainly
has an advantage now but it's something we experienced last year
as well and during the season the balance changed more than
once, so I think this gives confidence for the future."

Ferrari, constructors' champions since 1999, have twice
before started a season during the Schumacher era with two wins
in a row and in both years they won the titles.

But they stayed cautious on Sunday.

"Today's battle has confirmed that we must leave nothing to
chance in order to be competitive," team boss Jean Todt said.
"The championship will be very close."

Technical director Ross Brawn said: "We are still keeping
our feet on the ground, because McLaren and Williams could
always close the gap and we are ready for that.

But he added: "I think Michael has shown he is even stronger
than in the past and I don't know where that comes from."