Having returned to Europe to test the F2002 in Barcelona, Rubens Barrichello reflected on an unlucky Malaysian GP, which ended in engine failure on lap 40, when lying second. "I don't think we should take a negative view of our performance level...
Having returned to Europe to test the F2002 in Barcelona, Rubens Barrichello reflected on an unlucky Malaysian GP, which ended in engine failure on lap 40, when lying second. "I don't think we should take a negative view of our performance level in Malaysia, putting aside my engine failure," said the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver. "I prefer to think that we were actually quick all weekend, except that Williams were better than us. Our qualifying performance was good, but in the race, their tyres seem to perform better than ours. None of this was a surprise to us given how well they had done at this circuit last year."
Starting third on the grid, the Brazilian quickly found himself in the lead after his team-mate collided with Montoya. "I was very close to Montoya and Michael at the start, looking to take any advantage if I could," he recalled. "So I was lucky to keep clear of the confusion and I found myself leading at Turn 2. After that, I had to push really hard during the race and I was enjoying myself, having a good time. I was on the limit of the car all the time. My tyres were good and I was feeling fine, but all that was not fast enough to keep ahead of Ralf, with me on a two stop and him on a one stop strategy.
"It was not until I made my first stop that I realised I would not able to keep the lead. I had built up a lead of around 6 seconds, which dropped to around 5. This made me think Ralf might have been on a two stop like me. But when he still had not pitted several laps after I had, we realised he was going through the race with one refuelling only."
Despite being outpaced by Williams, it did seem that the Brazilian was heading for a podium finish, which made his retirement even harder to take. "I got very little warning that the engine was going to fail," said Barrichello." At the time it was very disappointing, as it had been a hard race to that point, effectively my first race of the season after Melbourne had been so short. It was hard to take, having completed around three quarters distance. But it happened and there is no point crying about it. I am just looking forward to better days ahead."
With just one day in the cockpit, Barrichello is not yet able to give a full assessment of the F2002 he is driving in Barcelona. "I'm still suffering from jet lag, so having done 80 laps on the first day is quite an achievement. When the mechanics had to change some parts at lunchtime, it gave me time to have a quick nap. It was good to drive the new car and I am looking forward to the rest of the test. I have a good feeling with the new car."