Second in the Drivers' World Championship, behind Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team-mate Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello is looking forward to the fourth round of the series, this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix. "I've had a busy schedule...
Second in the Drivers' World Championship, behind Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team-mate Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello is looking forward to the fourth round of the series, this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix. "I've had a busy schedule since Bahrain, carrying out sponsorship duties for the team in Rome and Lisbon and of course I have also been involved in pre-San Marino testing," said the Brazilian.
"In Barcelona, the test was slightly inconclusive as I had a small problem with the F2004. But later at Fiorano, I got more running -- one day in the wet and one in the dry - and the car felt good and we were able to evaluate new parts that we will use in Imola."
The San Marino GP signals the start of the European races, which means the paddocks will once again feature the colourful team transporters and motorhomes. But it seems that to a real racer like Rubens, this makes no difference. "To be honest, the best part of a race weekend for me is when I am driving the car on the track, so I don't take too much notice of my surroundings at the circuit," confessed the Ferrari man.
"I really enjoyed the first three races, but the big plus of being back in Europe is having less travelling time, especially when it comes to Monaco! This weekend of course is special, as Ferrari is racing at home in front of all its fans and I am looking forward to that."
Inevitably, the Imola weekend will be marked by the fact it represents the tenth anniversary of the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Barrichello's friend and mentor, Ayrton Senna. Rubens has prepared himself mentally for what could have been a difficult time psychologically.
"I am excited at the prospect of this race, even though it is a weekend when everyone is going to be talking about Ayrton," he comments. "But as I have said before, I just hope that people will be celebrating his life and remembering all the good things about him. Imola is the place where he got killed, but we have to remember his achievements and I am going there in a positive frame of mind. Also, we should not forget that Roland Ratzenberger lost his life that weekend too."
It was precisely the tragedy of 1994 that led to the circuit characteristics being radically altered; something that does not meet with total approval from Barrichello. "Imola was a track with very fast, nice corners, with a long straight that provided plenty of overtaking. We have seen some great dices there in the past, with Pironi and Villeneuve or Ayrton and Prost. But today, you need at least a half second per lap advantage to be able to pass another car."
"However, the track is still very challenging, as there is no other circuit where you have to be so aggressive driving over the kerbs. Therefore from a technical point of view it is very difficult to set-up the car and make it quick and consistent. That makes it exciting, but its general characteristic is stop and go. But it is the variety of tracks that makes the championship so challenging and I am confident that we will have a good weekend."