With yesterday's welcome dinner, the 14th International Press Ski Meeting opened at Madonna di Campiglio. The event is now an annual occasion to sample the slopes of the famous Trentino resort. Wroom 2004 only truly came alive this morning when...
With yesterday's welcome dinner, the 14th International Press Ski Meeting opened at Madonna di Campiglio. The event is now an annual occasion to sample the slopes of the famous Trentino resort. Wroom 2004 only truly came alive this morning when Luca Badoer and Rubens Barrichello held the first of the round of press meetings.
The hot topic discussed was, obviously, the renewal of the contract between Rubens Barrichello and Ferrari until 2006.Ferrari", proclaimed the Brazilian. It means that we believe in each other's work. There has recently been contact with other teams but I always had faith in my continuing at Maranello; it was only a matter of time. We signed yesterday, as soon as I came back to Italy from Brazil. I never had any doubts that the renewal would come, nor was I concerned that other members of the team had already signed because I have always signed at different times to the others."
"After Japan I immediately felt comfortable because I noticed that the whole squad, one at a time, were confirmed...it was only a time thing. Fundamentally, the renewal was based less on anything I said and more on my performances on the track over the years."
"As ever, I have to thank Stewart who gave me my first opening, and also Jordan. It was at Ferrari, however, that I learnt what it really means to be a Formula 1 driver. When I arrived at Ferrari in 2000", recalled Rubens, "I was all passion, grit and speed. Ferrari taught me to use my head and I can say that without a doubt my driving career started at Maranello. I have changed at Ferrari. I have come to understand how important it is to apply yourself daily, to be calm and to keep your feet on the ground. I know I can win if I have to. I know that dreams can become reality."
"I think that 2003 was the best year of my career. It is true that in 2002 I won four races but the two I won in 2003 were way more important as it was much more difficult to stay ahead, given the rule changes, compared to previous years."
2004 marks a decade since the death of Ayrton Senna and many journalists asked Rubens how much the passing away of his fellow countryman had affected his life and his choices. "At the beginning I felt the weight of the dreams of a whole country on my shoulders. They wanted to see me take over from Ayrton. It was hard for me to lose this sensation. I think of Ayrton every day and I know that in Brazil they are organising special events to remember him. I hope that they are joyful occasions for everybody, one where the people can enjoy the day. Inside myself I don't feel the need to do any more because ten years have passed since his death; I have learnt to be myself. Now I have my feet on the ground, I'm calm and very positive."
Naturally, the pair also fielded questions about the new Ferrari single-seater - one that will be officially unveiled at Maranello on 26 January - and about the 2004 season. "As always, we are working hard as a team, focusing on all aspects of the car, from the aerodynamics to the engine. We try to improve every year and this year is no exception. We want to be reliable and very quick. To this end we will work hard on the tyres. We are also preparing to race on circuits where the temperature will be very high as this year there will be many tracks like this."
Barrichello responded calmly and decisively to those who enquired as to whether Schumacher's presence at Ferrari conditioned his chances of winning: "I am very proud to work with Michael...racing alongside him is a privilege and not a problem, but I do hope to become world champion. And if I have to win, I'll win now and not when he retires," underlined Rubens. "Ferrari believes in me and I in the possibility of winning. Winning races and the world title; this is why I signed. I race for the most successful team in Formula 1. In the next three years there is the chance to win the championship. In 2006 I will be 34. If I still have the desire, I'll continue."