Rubens Barrichello has had a busy time since the Malaysian Grand Prix. First, he returned to Europe to make his much awaited debut last Tuesday at the wheel of this year's Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro challenger, the F2005. Now, he is back in Brazil,...
Rubens Barrichello has had a busy time since the Malaysian Grand Prix. First, he returned to Europe to make his much awaited debut last Tuesday at the wheel of this year's Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro challenger, the F2005. Now, he is back in Brazil, before heading off to Manama for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
At home in Sao Paulo, Barrichello reflected on what had been an unsatisfactory weekend in Sepang. "We did not know exactly where we stood until we went into the race," he began. "Qualifying had not gone well and we realised we had a problem on new tyres. But we were not expecting qualifying to go quite as badly as it did."
"On race day, it seemed that it got better for our opponents than for us. Having said that, if it had not been for the problem I encountered during the race, I think I would still have finished in the top six."
For qualifying and the race, Barrichello had opted for a different tyre choice to his team-mate, going for the softer of the two Bridgestone tyres on offer. However, he did not regard this as the root of his problems. "If I had to do the race again, I would have made the same tyre choice," he affirmed.
"I was looking after the tyres and I could keep up a reasonable pace. I was a bit unlucky that three laps before my pit stop, I got stuck behind Webber who was one and a half seconds slower than me. It was really difficult to pass him."
"Other than that, when I pitted and went out again, the balance began to get much worse and the engineers could see a big aero change on the telemetry (caused by an obstruction in the rear wing.) There was nothing I could and I had a very oversteering car for 15 laps, which completely wore out the tyres."
While the tyres were not the most competitive at the Sepang track, Rubens feels other factors contributed to his and Michael's lack of pace. "I don't think we can put all the blame for our Malaysian difficulties on Bridgestone," said the Brazilian. "We were racing the F2004 M car and we knew that this would probably be the toughest race of the year to go to Sepang with the old car."
"Obviously, we had a problem with the tyres, but it is not just Bridgestone's fault. You have to look at the complete package. As we say at Ferrari, we win together and we lose together, so the important thing is to stick together and make things work."
Finally driving the new car at Mugello has given the Ferrari man cause for optimism. "The new car is quicker," he stated. "It is particularly amazing to drive through the high speed corners. It is better on the braking and in almost every area. At Mugello, my first impressions were really positive and the car brought a smile to my face. With the F2005 we can really fight the opposition."
Whatever car Barrichello and Schumacher have at their disposal for the next race, Rubens expects to be competitive and be in much better shape than Malaysia. "We were very competitive in Bahrain last year, winning the race by half a lap, so we should have a much better race there than we did in Malaysia. You only have to look at how we performed in Melbourne, which was a very good weekend for us from start to finish."
Barrichello is looking forward to returning to the desert where last year, he started on the front row alongside pole-man Schumacher and finished in second place behind his team-mate. "It is not an easy circuit for overtaking as the surface is very slippery off the racing line," he recalled. "It is a busy track with a mix of tight and high-speed corners."
"Last year, I enjoyed it very much. It is very unique and fun. Last year on Sunday morning we could not even see the circuit because of a sand storm and that was certainly a new experience! It has its own character and the country has a different culture to what we are used to, which is always interesting."
And can he expect a better car-tyre package for the third round of the championship? "Bridgestone knows what needs to be done," concluded Barrichello. "Remember in 2003 when they had a problem, they recovered very well. The tyres need to improve and there is much to be done, but I am sure Bridgestone can turn the situation around."