Barrichello explains first corner shunt

Rubens Barrichello remains positive despite coming away empty handed from Melbourne after the first corner incident with Ralf Schumacher. Barrichello was braking his Ferrari when Schumacher hit him from behind: taking not only the two of them out...

Rubens Barrichello remains positive despite coming away empty handed from Melbourne after the first corner incident with Ralf Schumacher. Barrichello was braking his Ferrari when Schumacher hit him from behind: taking not only the two of them out of the race but followed by a further pile up that effectively removed half the grid from the track.

"I was actually very hopeful for the race, as my performance all weekend had been good," said Barrichello. "I was very close to Michael in terms of lap times and actually when it really mattered in qualifying, I was a bit quicker. Of course, I was a little bit lucky that things went my way before the rain on Saturday afternoon. So that was everything I could hope for and I was leading on the run down to the first corner."

Unfortunately the Brazilian's race was much shorter than anticipated. "When the lights went out," he continued, "I made a normal start, not a brilliant one and I could see that Michael had dropped back and that the Williams was coming up very quickly. So I moved to the right to shut the door, but then Ralf (Schumacher) disappeared from my vision and I thought he had gone completely to the left. I was hoping he was on the outside line and I was concentrating on accelerating for the first corner and the next thing I felt was a bang."

Barrichello was fortunate that a flying rear wing, probably from his own car, only hit him a passing blow on the head: "Looking at the photos after the race, I think it was my own rear wing which hit me on the helmet. It was a very light blow, but let's say that helmet is not serviceable any more. The bigger impact came from my head going backwards with the impact of the crash."

At the time of the accident there was some confusion as to whether the race should have been stopped; some drivers thought it had been stopped, running back to the pits for spare cars only to find the safety car been deployed rather than the red flags. Barrichello thinks he could have carried on in the race but switched his car off when he saw the following chaos after he and Schumacher had gone off.

"At the time I thought there was too much debris on the track and that they would have to call a re-start," he explained. "I could have actually tried to carry on, as my car had spun but I switched it off when I saw the carnage. Realistically, if I had got back to the pits, it would have taken too long to repair the car and in any case, I probably would not have been allowed to continue as the chassis was damaged on the top. I think it is a shame from the 'show' point of view that we were not allowed to take the spare cars, but the actual fighting we got between Michael and the Williams looked pretty exciting. But it might have been better with me and Ralf still there. I have heard some comments that the second accident was caused by the accident I had with Ralf, but I don't agree with that. It looked like a separate accident to me, with two other cars spinning and causing the big pile-up. "

The Brazilian had tested the F2001, the older style chassis Ferrari took to Melbourne, and will also take to Malaysia, over the winter but was still surprised how good the car was on race weekend: "On Friday, we were surprised at how fast we were," he remarked. "However, the car had improved a great deal and the tyres were good, so after that, it was just a case of improving it further over the weekend."

McLaren and Williams may have made their point of being the Scuderia's main rivals in the opening weekend of the season but Barrichello was impressed by others too."Sauber also performed well," he commented. "If I had to pick one team as a surprise at the first race, it would be Toyota. They did quite well and I am happy about that, as they are a major manufacturer and their strong presence will be good for the sport."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams