World champion Michael Schumacher gave Ferrari's new car a record-breaking track debut on Tuesday with a lap record to show his rivals his ambitions for the 2003 Formula One season.
At its unveiling last week the Italians claimed the car, named the F2003 G-A in memory of the late Gianni Agnelli whose company FIAT own Ferrari, was even better than last year's record-breaking model. And with five-time world champion Schumacher behind the wheel, the car lived up to expectations, breaking the lap record at Ferrari's test track here, 30 kilometres north-west of Bologna.
Schumacher drove the car for 78 circuits clocking a fastest lap of 57.045 seconds at the Ferrari test track in Fiorano to beat the previous record of 57.476, before retiring for lunch with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and general director Jean Todt.
"Gianni Agnelli would have been happy with this car and this team," said Schumacher. "Today, we achieved a very good result with great reliability. I am very happy with this first day of testing."
The new Ferrari will not be used for the first Formula One race of the season in Melbourne, Australia on March 9. It is expected to be given its first outing at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola in April.
This year Schumacher, who continues testing at Fiorano Wednesday, is seeking a record-breaking sixth drivers' championship.