It may 'only' be an evolution of last year's championship winning car, but Michael Schumacher provided the traditional pre-season boost to tifosi morale by beating the existing lap record at Fiorano with the F2004.

The German joined team test driver Luca Badoer at the private test circuit on Saturday, and took to the track in the sole new car after his Italian colleague had completed a basic electronics systems programme on the older F2003-GA which has started on Friday.

Although conditions were overcast, the world champion completed a century of laps, racking up a 56.279secs best effort to break the previous record set with the F2003-GA. Badoer, to his personal credit, had previously recorded a 56.852secs effort in the course of 23 laps.

Testing continues at this track today, again with Schumacher driving the F2004.



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