Rubens Barrichello thinks 2004 is his best chance to win the title and teammate Michael Schumacher is not going to hold him back. The Brazilian is prepared to work for the team but claimed he is under no obligation to move over to assist...
Rubens Barrichello thinks 2004 is his best chance to win the title and teammate Michael Schumacher is not going to hold him back. The Brazilian is prepared to work for the team but claimed he is under no obligation to move over to assist Schumacher to win the championship.
"I reckon this year is my best chance of winning the championship," Barrichello said at a press conference in Malaysia today. "As a driver you must believe that the dream can become a reality. Especially with a quick and reliable team-mate like Michael you have to believe you can beat him."
"Both Michael and I work for the team and we have to do what we are told, but there is absolutely nothing in my contract which says that I have to let Michael win. There are no team orders for the championship."
The Brazilian is well aware of Schumacher's No.1 status at Ferrari and although he admitted talks with other teams last year, he still views Ferrari as his best choice. "Ferrari is always my first option," he said. "In terms of getting what I wanted from an engineering point of view and looking at the general situation in the short to medium terms, I feel that Ferrari is my best option, which is why I signed a new contract with them."
"Yes, maybe I could have been considered as the Number 1 driver with another team, but Ferrari is still the best option. At Ferrari I have never felt there is a number one and a number two driver and the proof of that is that I am still here."
"If some people say this is Michael's team, then in a way they are right, because he has been here longer than me and he has won all the championships. But it is up to me to change that with my performances on the track. I have no problem with Michael or the team."
Schumacher himself is full of praise for his teammate and thinks Barrichello will give him a run for his money this season. "I think Rubens is doing a fantastic job and he's proved to be performing consistently," said the reigning champion. "I hope that continues for this year, because if not, we will both struggle. It's going to be a long season and I think he will be tough competition."
Barrichello expects this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix to be tougher than Melbourne, but even if Ferrari does well at Sepang he's not predicting another walkover year like 2002. "I think Malaysia with its very high temperatures, is a special case," he commented. "However, I do not think it will give much of an indication about the rest of the season. I do not expect this year to be like 2002. It is a very long season and we must be patient, but a win for us in Sepang will not mean the championship is ours."