Rubens Barrichello has not sat in his F2002 since providing so much excitement in the British GP, where he drove from the back of the grid to finish second behind Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team-mate Michael Schumacher. "I've been relaxing, but...
Rubens Barrichello has not sat in his F2002 since providing so much excitement in the British GP, where he drove from the back of the grid to finish second behind Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team-mate Michael Schumacher.
"I've been relaxing, but keeping in daily contact with the team to find out what has been going on," said the Brazilian. "At Ferrari, work never stops even though we are going well this year. The cars are constantly improving, as we are constantly testing. The two test drivers are doing a fantastic job and this week, Michael did some running at Fiorano. All this effort also helps towards next season. Having a car which works fantastically well now, makes you push even further for the future. I believe in Ferrari because they keep showing me they can produce a car which gets faster and faster. It is in their hands and I just get on with the driving."
Barrichello is well aware of all the media focus on the fact that Michael can take the title either in France or seven days later in Germany. "I can't say I feel any extra pressure because of this," reckoned Rubens. "People are saying Magny-Cours should be my race because Michael wants to take the title in Germany, but I feel that is complete rubbish. In Formula 1 you win when you can. We know from the results of testing that once again we will be competitive this weekend in France. From last year, we know that the Michelin tyre used by our rivals will be very competitive there, so we need to look after ourselves over the weekend and wait and see what result we get. We cannot go there thinking about the championship. We have to concentrate on winning the race."
If and when Ferrari take the titles, one point of interest will be to see if Barrichello can end the year in second place. "For me it is more important to win races," he maintained. "That pleases me more than the idea of finishing second in the championship. If you tell yourself that you want to finish second in the series, that is not really good enough, so as an individual I take it race by race and try and win as many as possible. If, at the end, I finish second then that is fine too."
F1 pundits believe that if Michael wins the championship, we might see closer racing between the two Scuderia men, but Barrichello does not agree with this. "My race tactics will not change if Michael takes the title, because I don't think you will ever see a risky fight between team-mates. It has happened in the past with other teams, where the drivers have agreed that whoever leads the first lap will win the race. But usually, team-mates should have an easier time, racing fairly but without taking risks. You never fight your team-mate the way you fight the others."
Barrichello has finished third in France for the last three years. "So, I would like to do better this time," he exclaimed. "I like the Magny-Cours circuit, which has some chances for overtaking. It is well known for having a very smooth surface. This can make the car easier to set up in terms of its ride-height and other elements. However, the actual nature of the track in terms of its layout means you need a good set-up in terms of aerodynamics and mechanical grip. It is an interesting place from a technical point of view. One aspect of the track is that, like Barcelona, it is very sensitive to temperature change. So you might find that you do a faster time in the morning than in qualifying for example. That makes it tricky as you find you have to be sure you understand what the car is doing at all times. It should be a very interesting weekend."