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‘New rules won’t slow me down’

London: Ferrari’s world champion Michael Schumacher has warned his Formula One rivals not to expect rule changes to slow him down in Grand Prix qualifying next season.

“I especially find the change to the qualifying format rather positive because I can set a fast lap time straight away,” Schumacher’s spokeswoman Sabine Kehm quoted the five-times champion as saying on Tuesday.

Qualifying will take place over two days, with each driver given a single flying lap on their own in each hour-long session, officials announced on Monday.

Friday’s times will not count towards the grid but will dictate the starting order for Saturday’s decisive session, with the fastest running last.

The German, resting at home after setting a string of records and dominating the 2002 season with 11 wins in 17 races, expressed approval of the rule changes announced by the governing Fia’s Formula One commission on Monday.

He said that the changes, which included awarding points to the top eight race finishers rather than just the first six and also halving the gap between first and second place, were “globally okay”.

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, who drives for Jordan, also supported the qualifying changes as did compatriot Jarno Trulli at Renault. “I experienced something similar when I drove for Alfa Romeo in international Touring Cars,” said Fisichella of the one lap shoot-out. “It’s a worthwhile idea.”

Fisichella told the Gazzetta dello Sport that he also welcomed the changes in scoring.

“If, as happened this year, the three leading teams don’t have any problems then we must fight for seventh place and it’s right that whoever finishes there should be rewarded,” said the Roman.

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