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Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report
Ferrari Affected by Stepney's Absence

Friday May 19th, 2000

The absence of injured chief mechanic Nigel Stepney poses a problem for Ferrari at the European Grand Prix, the Formula One team's boss Jean Todt admitted on Friday.

"We have a problem, because Stepney is missing," Todt told a news conference at the Nurburgring, adding that he was confident the reconfigured pit crew had done enough practice to avoid any embarrassment.

The Frenchman said he would wait until after Sunday's race before making a full assessment.

"We did the best to bring out the most of the team and I am quite optimistic," Todt said after Friday's free practice during which Michael Schumacher clocked the fifth-fastest time while his Brazilian team mate Rubens Barichello was 14th.

Todt said both Ferraris had performed well during Friday's free practice in alternating dry and rainy weather and he expected to see a close fight for the front row positions in qualifying.

Schumacher, currently 14 points clear of second-placed Mika Hakkinen in the championship, said his car was just as reliable in the cold German weather as it had been in Spain.

"The weather does not affect our reliability and the car works just as well here as it did in the hot conditions we experienced in Barcelona," he said.

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