Sunday March 4th, 2001
McLaren's David Coulthard conceded on Sunday his new MP4-16 car was currently not as good as Ferrari's F2001 after finishing second at the Australian Grand Prix to Michael Schumacher.
"They are on the ball. There's no question about that. They are setting the pace and we are catching up," said Coulthard. His team mate Mika Hakkinen crashed out on lap 26.
However, Norbert Haug, the motorsport director of McLaren's engine suppliers Mercedes-Benz, was more upbeat, telling reporters: "Ferrari are not miles ahead."
Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn said: ""It is a good step from what we had before and that car was able to win the championship.
"Clearly, it is going to be a very tight competition this year but...the indications are that it is going to be McLaren and Ferrari again."
The next round of the championship is at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia on March 18.
Coulthard said: "In reality, to reel them in in Malaysia is probably a tall order.
"Our car will go quicker. Whether that is enough for us to catch up, because as we develop they will develop, we will see. It all depends if they are up against a ceiling or not. Only time will tell."