Rubens Barrichello was given a clear signal of the level of support he can expect at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix when he attended a meeting of his Fan Club last week. "We organised a meeting for my Italian Fan Club in Imola and I was amazed...
Rubens Barrichello was given a clear signal of the level of support he can expect at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix when he attended a meeting of his Fan Club last week. "We organised a meeting for my Italian Fan Club in Imola and I was amazed that around 1500 people turned up." Luckily, the paddock at the Autodromo Dino e Enzo Ferrari was big enough to accommodate them all, on what was an enjoyable and useful evening. "We arranged a themed evening, with Brazilian food and drink," explained the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver. "Everyone paid to get in and the money went to a Brazilian charity. It was great to see how enthusiastic they all were and I lost count of how many autographs I signed and how often I posed for photos!"
Before Imola, Barrichello was in Monza to take over testing duties from Michael Schumacher. "It was a very useful test for us," he maintained. "Michael ran mainly in the wet and for my first run at the circuit this year I was lucky enough to have two dry days, so we have acquired plenty of data on how to set-up the F2002 in all conditions." Although the car was mechanically the same as in previous races, it was fitted with small wings for the first time this year, to suit the high speed nature of the track which hosts this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.
"Now that Hockenheim has lost its long straights, Monza is really the only high speed-low downforce circuit left on the calendar," explained Rubens. "Driving through the high speed corners is really exciting and hitting 360 km/h at the end of the straight is also good fun."
Last weekend, Barrichello visited former Formula 1 venue, Estoril in Portugal. "I went to watch the motorcycle grand prix and catch up with my fellow countryman Alex Barros," said Rubens. "Unfortunately, the weather was terrible and just staying on those Moto-GP machines looked difficult enough without having to actually race them. But it was fun all the same."
Now, the Ferrari man is preparing to defend his second place in the Driver's Championship this weekend. "I am especially looking forward to this Italian Grand Prix, because unfortunately last year it was a sad weekend for everyone," he recalled. "Monza is always a fun weekend, combined with some extra pressure when you are a Ferrari driver, which I feel I handle quite well. Monza is fantastic in that it is pure tifiosi, tifosi, tifosi! It is a special place for me and I usually go well here so there is plenty to look forward to."
"In Brazil I get a bit more of a boost from the crowd, but second on the list is definitely Monza. What makes the circuit special is the fact you can overtake, which usually makes for a good race for us and for the fans. The nature of the track is a little bit stop-start with the chicanes, which makes it heavy on brakes. However, Monza has managed to retain its high speed element, while making the track safer than before, which can only be a good thing."