As he spoke to the media on Sunday night in Bahrain, Rubens Barrichello's face told the story of a tough grand prix, which he described as "a weekend to forget," but by Thursday night, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver was already in a much...
As he spoke to the media on Sunday night in Bahrain, Rubens Barrichello's face told the story of a tough grand prix, which he described as "a weekend to forget," but by Thursday night, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver was already in a much more positive frame of mind after a day's testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, near Barcelona.
"It's interesting to see the difference a few months can make," reflected the Brazilian. "Last year, a lot of people wanted to see Ferrari beaten, because they reckoned we were making Formula 1 boring. But now, they are changing their tune and willing us to improve to stop 'Renault's domination!'"
Reflecting on the last grand prix, Barrichello reckoned he might have felt better if he had come away with the single point for eighth place that he lost in the dying moments of the race.
"Bahrain was very difficult for me, with almost no running on Friday and Saturday. Prior to that, I had only about seven hours experience in the F2005, so for the race, I had to copy Michael's set-up, as it would have required Superman to get his own set-up without knowing the car!"
"Despite that, I was able to get up to sixth place in the race. I was doing quite well, but I knew the tyres would be marginal and by the last lap I was almost ten seconds off the pace and the car was very difficult to drive. It's a shame there is no point for ninth place."
According to Rubens, the Scuderia is now proceeding calmly with preparations for San Marino and the rest of the season. "At Ferrari there is no sense of panic," he maintained. "We did not do well in the last two races, due to the fact that we did not have a good overall package and had some problems with tyres. Now, we are working hard to address the problem and do better."
His recent test has left the Brazilian in optimistic mood: "I had a good test in Barcelona and was able to do a lot of laps and understand the car much better and I feel we are going to be pretty much okay from now on."
"I did around 550 kilometres on the day which I think might be a record in terms of the biggest distance I have driven in one day's testing." In fact, Barrichello completed the equivalent of almost two grands prix distances in his one day at the Catalan track.
"Renault and Toyota are doing very well at the moment, but I think that with our new car and the usual support from Bridgestone, we can do well. Now, everything is falling into place. In Barcelona we tested a lot of things and made good progress in terms of performance, while the big mileage I did was a good test from the reliability point of view."
"Now, we still have more time before going to race in Imola and everyone in the team is making an even bigger effort than usual to be prepared. We know what we have to do and we want to do well. Nothing has changed within the team from all those years when we won the championship. The only difference is that other teams have improved. Now it is up to us to get our act together and we know how to do that."
Despite a difficult start to the season for the Scuderia, Barrichello is able to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and is enthusiastic about the actual racing so far this year. "At least the race fans are getting to see some interesting racing," he said. "Apart from the qualifying format, the new regulations seem to be working well. For me, I am not so keen on the new qualifying format."
"The new two race engine rule means that we get very little running on Friday and Saturday which results in situations like we saw in Bahrain where any Ferrari fans at the track only got to see Schumacher driving on Saturday. As for the rest, it seems to be okay."
So, can Ferrari get back on track as the first European leg of the championship gets underway? "Saying that we will do better in Imola because it will be much cooler than at the first three races is a very simple way to look at the situation, but there is an element of truth in that assessment," reckoned Barrichello.
"We were struggling a little bit in the heat which can have a tendency to exaggerate any problems you might have. I think we might be able to perform better in cooler conditions, but that does not mean we cannot also do well in high temperatures. We just need to work on the whole package, including the tyres, to make it better. But yes, at the moment, cooler conditions might suit us better."
Before the San Marino GP, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro will be continuing to work hard in the factory and on the track. "Obviously we want to do well at home in Italy and we are not just relying on cool temperatures and luck," explained Rubens.
"Next week, we have a very extensive test programme at Mugello and Fiorano. I will be driving a total of four days, working at both tracks and we have to hope we make a step forward."