When Michael Schumacher faced the press in the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Media bus this afternoon, naturally most of the questions centred on the announcement that Rubens Barrichello would be staying on as his team-mate until the end of the 2004...
When Michael Schumacher faced the press in the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Media bus this afternoon, naturally most of the questions centred on the announcement that Rubens Barrichello would be staying on as his team-mate until the end of the 2004 season. "I am very happy about Rubens' news," said the German.
"He has been doing a fantastic job for us and is a good team-mate. We make a good partnership and have an excellent relationship and it is fantastic that we will continue working together. The team is happy with him, hence the two year contract rather than just one. It is very good for the team to have this stability as it is going through a good period right now. Although I had no input at all in the decision to keep him - I was told about it after the new deal was agreed - I cannot see anyone doing a better job than Rubens right now."
Barrichello's performance in qualifying has been far closer to Michael's this year than last and the reigning world champion felt this might be connected to the F2002. "Maybe he gets along better with this new car," suggested Schumacher. "But last year, he was also very close to me and not as far off as some people seemed to suggest. Now, we tend to both be at the front and so he can show what he can do. It is a positive situation, because with both cars often out in the lead, it means that if one car has a problem, then the other should win."
The A1-Ring is the only circuit on the grand prix calendar where Schumacher has never won a grand prix, but he told the media this would not affect the way he tackles this weekend. "It does not mean I want to win this race more than the others," he maintained. "I always drive to win and I am thinking of the championship as a whole, not in terms of winning individual races." However, the four times world champion warned that he did not think Ferrari would be as dominant in Austria as it was in Spain, a fortnight ago."
"Barcelona certainly suited us in every respect; tyres, aerodynamics and power," he said. "That will not be the case here. It is a stop and go circuit and last year we saw that in some stints the Williams was very strong, very fast and competitive. I am assuming they will be closer to us than in Spain, but I still hope we have an edge."