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Ferrari play down domination fears

Ferrari sent an ominous warning that they are ready to repeat their 2002 domination after claiming their third victory of the season in the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix.

Two years ago, the world champions romped to the title in record time as they scored 15 wins from the 17 grands prix on the calendar. In maintaining their 100 per cent start to the current campaign with six-time title winner Michael Schumacher's third victory of out of three races in Bahrain, Ferrari underlined their status as the best in the sport, but, with 15 races of the year still remaining, the Italian team are remaining naturally cautious.

"We will never rest easy and never take anything for granted," technical director Ross Brawn said. "We try to keep our feet on the ground, but it has been a fantastic start to the season. We've got a 100 percent finishing record and everything worked well today. It is a fantastic result but there are still 15 races to go. I think that attitude is one of our strengths because we know that things can change quickly in Formula One."

Reliability has once again been the key for Ferrari, who have dropped just three points this year when Rubens Barrichello finished fourth in Malaysia, while expected title rivals Williams and McLaren have been beset by problems.

McLaren are in fifth in the championship standings with only four points - 47 less than Ferrari - and sunk to new lows after David Coulthard and Kimi Räikkönen both retired in Bahrain.

Williams are joint third in the constructors' championship as a result of Juan Pablo Montoya tumbling back through the field to finish 13th in Bahrain after gearbox problems.

Like Ferrari, Renault and BAR-Honda, second and joint-third in the championship respectively, have got both cars to the finish of all three races this season and have benefited from their reliability record.

Renault scored a podium in Australia when Fernando Alonso finished third, while BAR's Jenson Button has been third in Malaysia and Bahrain, but they have not had the pace to take the fight to Ferrari.

Renault are 29 points adrift of Ferrari, while Williams and BAR are 32 points behind. In the drivers' standings Schumacher is nine points ahead of Barrichello, with Button 15 points down in third.

Schumacher has started from pole position in all three grands prix and, after making a quick start off the grid, has not looked back in Australia, Malaysia or Bahrain. Not even desert sand on the all-new Bahrain International Circuit could help his rivals, but Schumacher, champion for the last four seasons, refutes suggestions that he will romp to the title again this year.

"I'm afraid that I think the others will raise their game and they will come back to competition but it's not down to us," said Schumacher, who came back from a nightmare start last year to claim the championship.

"Did you think that after last year in Australia we would have a championship? I simply believe we have done three out of 18 races - there's a long way to go."

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