Ferrari announces that it has extended its agreement with the driver Rubens Barrichello to cover the 2003 and 2004 racing seasons. Having spent the Wednesday prior to the Austrian Grand Prix playing a round of golf, Rubens Barrichello was in a...
Ferrari announces that it has extended its agreement with the driver Rubens Barrichello to cover the 2003 and 2004 racing seasons.
Having spent the Wednesday prior to the Austrian Grand Prix playing a round of golf, Rubens Barrichello was in a great mood when he arrived at the A1-Ring circuit in Zeltweg today, with the knowledge that he now has a contract with Scuderia Ferrari until the end of the 2004 season. "A new contract with the Scuderia makes me very happy indeed," said the Brazilian. "Especially as we immediately discussed the possibility of signing a two year agreement. Ferrari has shown such faith in me, telling me I have been doing a good job and I have to say they are doing a superb job too, producing a great car. Every year, it gets better and better. They are a fantastic team and we all work well together, both through the good times and the difficult times."
Barrichello was also happy that this news puts an end to speculation about his future and who he might be driving for in the next few years. "Staying at Ferrari has always been my first choice," he maintained. "I am very enthusiastic about the two year deal. I never felt insecure about my future with the team, even before we had discussed next year. I simply concentrated on my job. It would have been easy to get upset at not having a contract, but it did not bother me. However, this security is a nice thing to have. Driving for Ferrari was always a dream for me, but more than the history of the red cars, I am actually driving a very competitive car and that is why I am happy to be here."
The Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro man could not pinpoint a date for when contractual discussions got underway. "We always seem to be talking a little bit about the future. Ferrari has said to me this year that the fact I have failed to finish some races is unfortunate, but that the team felt I was doing a great job and was happy with me. So, there have always been discussions, but it was only in the past fortnight that the contractual process speeded up and papers were drawn up."
Inevitably, the question of how Barrichello feels about tying up his future for a longer period as Michael Schumacher's team-mate raised a smile from the Brazilian. "I've already said I am proud to be driving alongside someone who is beating all the records," he explained. "We are working together very well for the good of the team and I am relaxed about it."
When the newly-signed contract expires, Barrichello will have completed twelve seasons as a grand prix driver. "That's something I could never have imagined or planned for," reckoned Rubens. "I always had an open mind about things like this. The future is the future and I tend not to think about it. At 29, I am still very young, but I have a mixture of youth and experience, as I have already been driving for ten years." In fact, Barrichello (152 GP starts) is the second most experienced driver on the grid, behind team mate Michael Schumacher (166 GP starts.)
"I have to say that this news gives me an extra boost for the Austrian GP weekend," added Barrichello. "An important aspect of the new contract is that there was no sense of me having to ask repeatedly for it. It was arranged by common and mutual consent as we agreed it was very good for both parties. We both wanted to keep the relationship going. Now, we are in Austria, a circuit which I like and I hope I can get a lot out of it. It's looking good."