As this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix approaches, inevitably the subject of last year's race at the A1-Ring is bound to come up for discussion. In 2002, Rubens Barrichello was leading the event, when the Brazilian obeyed team orders and allowed ...
As this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix approaches, inevitably the subject of last year's race at the A1-Ring is bound to come up for discussion. In 2002, Rubens Barrichello was leading the event, when the Brazilian obeyed team orders and allowed Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team-mate Michael Schumacher to move ahead to take the win, with the aim of strengthening the German's championship chances.
"With hindsight, it was a very controversial decision," admitted Barrichello. "But now, a year later, I prefer to look only at the more positive aspects of that race. I had a brilliant race, pushing right from the start. We all know what happened at the end and in a way, I think it had an impact on the whole history of Formula 1. I do not feel it reflected badly on me, in fact I think it strengthened my position and my partnership with Ferrari. It strengthened my and their belief that I can do the job and that I can win races. I do not look back on Austria as a negative thing."
"When I was a little boy, I really enjoyed watching the cars race there. I like the atmosphere of the place and it is a good track, because it has overtaking potential and you do not have to make too much of a compromise in qualifying. For these reasons, I am very sad that this is probably the last year we are going to race there. I hope it comes back on the calendar in the future."
Barrichello is in confident mood for this weekend, after another profitable test session with F2003-GA last week. "Some of the testing, including tyre work, was aimed specifically at Austria and overall, we are learning more all the time about the new car," revealed Rubens. As for strategy in Austria, he feels the new qualifying rules will once again have an effect. "In general, not just for Austria, I think the new rules mean that some people might try a one stop which could create a surprise, but I don't think it is an option anymore for the front runners, for whom two stops is pretty much the minimum now."
Having raced in Spain, then tested in Italy, Barrichello was back in Spain at the weekend to watch the MotoGP at Jerez and to catch up with his friend and fellow countryman, Yamaha rider Alexandre Barros. "It was fantastic to see the new four-stroke machines. The noise is just incredible, especially from the Ducatis. The new bikes are absolutely amazing and they lap Jerez hitting speeds which are 3 km/h faster than the F1 cars!" It seems that the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver was so impressed, he is not content just to be a spectator.
"I rode a normal 600 cc bike around the Sao Paulo circuit recently and I was eight seconds slower than Barros. I was pleased with that, as I was taking it easy so as not to risk hurting myself." Could there be a new career on the horizon? "I have already been in contact with Ducati and Ferrari about riding a MotoGP bike round Mugello. That would be something special. I was thinking that in the future, I would concentrate on golf, but now, who knows," joked Rubens.
And a final word about Austria: "For sure this track suits me. I just have to get on with my job. I have been very close to winning this year and I hope the first victory comes soon."