Rubens Barrichello started his 2005 season in fine style with a confident drive from 11th on the grid to second in Melbourne, but he feels there are a lot of question marks over the forthcoming Malaysian Grand Prix. The same set of tyres for ...
Rubens Barrichello started his 2005 season in fine style with a confident drive from 11th on the grid to second in Melbourne, but he feels there are a lot of question marks over the forthcoming Malaysian Grand Prix. The same set of tyres for qualifying and the race and the two-race engine will have to stand up to Malaysian heat, making it something of a trip into the unknown.
Despite a wet qualifying on Saturday at Albert Park and a brake problem on Sunday, Barrichello was very happy with his result in Australia. "I enjoyed the Australian weekend immensely," he said. "Before going there, we knew our old car was still competitive, but not to the level of last year, especially as Renault and McLaren had made a big improvement."
"We always go well in Australia, so I was confident, but then the rain in first qualifying put everything up in the air. Apart from the brake problems, I had a great race, pushing from start to finish with the tyres lasting very well and I managed my brake balance problem perfectly."
One thing Barrichello found strange was the way the timing was displayed in the new qualifying format. After Sunday's session, only the aggregate time from both sessions was shown on the timing screen, rather than the individual lap. "I'd prepared myself for the new format of the weekend, but some things still caught me out," the Brazilian said.
"In second qualifying for example, I was expecting to see my actual lap time, followed later by the aggregate time and the position. Starting from my Friday time, I found it unusual even though I could see the minus and plus to other people's laps."
Michael Schumacher failed to finish in Melbourne after an incident with Williams' Nick Heidfeld but although Barrichello currently has the advantage over his teammate, it's not something he finds significant. "I've been working hard to be a title contender all the time and I don't think in terms of just beating Michael," he remarked.
"I have all the ingredients I need to be successful. All I take from Australia is that starting eleventh and finishing second was a great result, especially as picking up points while we are still running the old car is very important."
As for Malaysia, Barrichello expects a tougher challenge. "In a way, people are having to work for two races at a time, rather than working on the limit for one, so in Sepang we will see how the cars really perform. This is the real test. I have a certain mileage on my engine and I will have to look after it. It is an unknown for us. Is the car tough enough to keep on going? Will I have to pace myself?"
"There are a lot of question marks, but I will be out to enjoy the experience: tyres, drivers and engines must all last to the very final corner. Michael has less mileage on his engine so he will probably be able to run more laps in free practice. But we operate as a team at Ferrari and so that will be good for me too."
"Over the course of the year, managing the situation if me and Michael end up out of synchronisation in terms of whether we are doing our first or second race with the same engine will be an interesting situation. I don't know if that will arise with us too often, given our good reliability record. But it is a probability."
The Brazilian did not return to Europe for testing prior to Malaysia, as Ferrari's two test drivers Luca Badoer and Marc Gen? carried out development work. Once Sepang is over, Barrichello is keen to try out the F2005. "After Malaysia we will be back to the testing regime and I am looking forward to getting my hands on the new car," he said.