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Michael Schumacher has told French news agency AFP that he expects to race Ferrari's new contender, the F2002, in the Australian GP on 3rd March.

There had been doubts about how reliable the innovative title defender would be, leading to speculation that last year's car may be used for the first three races of the season.

However, the F2002 made its debut at Fiorano on Sunday and broke the track record there straight out of the box. It has continued to improve on this record on each day of testing.

This has given Schumacher confidence that they will be able to use the F2002 from the start of the year.

"It's now 99 percent certain I'll race the F2002 in Melbourne," the four time world champion said yesterday (Tuesday).

"The F2002 should be faster (than the F2001) and I'm especially surprised at how reliable it is. There have been no problems up to now and we are confident about the future.

"(However), we'll have to fully simulate a Grand Prix before we take the car to Australia. We have to be totally sure about the first race."
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