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Ferrari struggling with the F300

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER began serious testing work with the new Ferrari F300 at the Fiorano test track last week but things did not go well with technical problems and bad weather meaning that very little could be achieved. Schumacher began testing on Monday but managed only around 30 laps on the first day. On Tuesday things were little better with Michael doing only 21 laps because of gearbox problems. Wednesday saw more fog and then a three hour stoppage for "checks" on the car.

While Schumacher was wasting his time in Fiorano, Eddie Irvine had a rather more successful time at Jerez de la Frontera, doing tire tests with an updated version of the 1997 F310B, the British driver completing over 150 laps despite poor weather conditions at the Spanish circuit, where he was in the company of the Williams and McLaren teams.

Schumacher, incidentally, hit the headlines in Europe last week when he said that he did not believe that his reputation had been adversely affected by the reaction to his accident with Jacques Villeneuve at Jerez at the end of last season.

In a staggering piece of self-delusion, Schumacher said that he did not believe that his reputation has "gone down". "I believe most people do not reduce the season to one race," he said. "Most see the whole season. I am well aware the season ended badly for me but I have to look to the future. I have said I made a mistake and I can't correct that wrong. The press should see that what is behind it is not something very serious."

It should be noted that German language magazines are all reporting serious drops in the sales figures after the European GP and while some of this is certainly due to the fact that the season was finished, there has also been a drop off in his popularity in Germany.

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