Motor racing: Ferrari passes its test

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Double world drivers' champion Michael Schumacher yesterday tested Ferrari's new car for the first time. Ferrari launched the new car, the F310B, yesterday in Fiorano, Italy, close to the team's Maranello headquarters.

"Schumacher has driven 12 laps without problem and he is very satisfied," a Ferrari spokesman said. The car will undergo eight weeks of initial testing and possible modifications before the Formula One season opens with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on 9 March.

Meanwhile British designer John Barnard, the man primarily responsible for designing Ferrari's F1 cars over the last decade, hopes to remain with the team despite the arrival of fellow Briton Ross Brawn as technical director.

Barnard, whose F310B car was dubbed "a red Williams" because of its similarities to the Renault-powered car, denied he was poised to leave the team.

His contract ends this year, but he has started talks already about a new deal even though he admitted he would be attracted to a new challenge if Frenchman Alain Prost succeeded in buying Ligier to set up a new all- French team.

"I want to stay in Formula One and I would like to continue working with Ferrari," Barnard said. "But I cannot say yet what the future will hold. I would be very interested in working with Alain, but that is altogether another matter.

"For now, I am hoping to form a good relationship with Ross and to work well with him. I think he will be taking some of the weight off my shoulders."

Brawn's arrival at Ferrari reunites him with Schumacher with whom he worked for four years at Benetton, during which time the German won both his titles.