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Schumacher's Ferrari due this week

FERRARI will reveal its new F1 challenger - the 410T - at Maranello on Thursday. It will be driven this year by MichaelĘSchumacher and Eddie Irvine.

The team will also reveal that Nicola Larini is to remain its test driver, despite suggestions that the job might go to the young Italian Giancarlo Fisichella.

The new-look Ferrari team - put together by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and his sporting director Jean Todt - has invested a vast amount in preparation for this year's F1 program, with Michael Schumacher's salary alone being equivalent to the entire budget of some of F1's smaller teams. The extra money needed has come from a new sponsorship deal from Shell, plus extra money from Marlboro.

The structure of the team has changed a lot in recent months with Todt now having a variety of departments reporting to him: John Barnard heads the technical team in England, with Gustav Brunner in charge of the crew in Italy. Brunner's rumored move to Sauber has been blocked by Todt.

The engine department is run by Paolo Matronly, with Osamu Goto looking after research and development.

The racing department comes under Italian engineer Giorgio Ascanelli. Schumacher will be engineered by Jean Alesi's former engineer, Ignazio Lunetta, while Irvine inherits Luca Balderisseri from Gerhard Berger. Ascanelli will oversee both cars and Barnard is expected to attend most of the races as well.

The race team will be coordinated by Englishman Nigel Stepney, with Claudio Berro in charge of logistics, Stefano Domenicali sponsor liaison and Giancarlo Baccini press relations.

Back at the Ferrari factory, Mario Almondo is in charge of production; Bernard Niclot quality control; Roberto Dalla electronics and Rino Campana purchasing.

The 410T is understood to be a completely new car, and is very late arriving because it has reportedly failed the new side impact crash test several times. This means that the car will have only minimal testing before it has to be packed up and despatched to Australia. Most of the teams are expected to have their cars ready for shipping on February 28.

While many of the new systems will have been run on the old car it will still take the team some time to iron out all the glitches. Schumacher is saying that he does not expect to win very many races this year, but this seems to be a deliberate attempt to play down Ferrari's competitiveness - in case the new car does not prove to be very competitive. Rivals teams argue that Ferrari may be poised to take the series by storm, pointing out that it was pointless to sign Schumacher unless the team expected to have competitive machinery.

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