US GP: Barrichello happy to play

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 28, 2001 - Rubens Barrichello awaits his turn. Barrichello, 29, has reached the epitome of auto racing success as a driver. He drives in Formula One and, even more importantly, he drives for Ferrari. He'll start in...

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 28, 2001 - Rubens Barrichello awaits his turn.

Barrichello, 29, has reached the epitome of auto racing success as a driver. He drives in Formula One and, even more importantly, he drives for Ferrari. He'll start in his second SAP United States Grand Prix on Sept. 30 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after finishing second in the inaugural event last September.

But the Brazilian still competes in a gigantic shadow.

Michael Schumacher is his teammate. Schumacher already has clinched his fourth World Championship - and second in a row - last month at Hungary. Schumacher also earned his 52nd career victory at Spa, Belgium, earlier this month, which made him the winningest driver in F1 history.

Barrichello hasn't exactly been a slouch in his two seasons with the Italian team that carries the flying horse on its famous red racing machines. Last year, he won one race, at Germany, had nine podium finishes and placed fourth in the standings. This season he is winless but has scored points in 12 races and is third in the standings, only three behind David Coulthard.

But there stands his teammate Schumacher, far above everybody by 50 points.

Barrichello appeared to have the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in hand two weeks ago, but a slow pit stop dropped him to second as Juan Pablo Montoya motored by to his first F1 victory.

"Maybe if it wasn't for the loss of time in the pits, we would have done it," Barrichello said Thursday.

Barrichello isn't discouraged. He knows there is no better place to be as a driver and feels his time will come, maybe Sunday at Indy.

"There are two races still remaining in this championship where I can be a winner, so I'm going to work as hard as I can," he said. "Second is something that is never good enough, is it? If you think that there's two races to win, at the end of the day, if you finish second, second is better than third."

Barrichello feels no envy at being No. 2 to Schumacher. In fact, he considers it an honor.

"No, we know what the story is already," he said. "He built this place (Ferrari team). If it wasn't for him nobody would be here, Jean Todt or Ross Brawn, so being part of this big family, I'm just taking the positive side.

"One day will be mine if I still believe and stay determined to do well. I'm never going to be working, thinking that somebody has to give me something. I have to do it my way."

Barrichello has a fan in his corner named Schumacher. Schumi said his teammate is not considered No. 2.

"People always put it in a way it is my team and whoever sits next to me is automatically the second driver," the German great said. "And neither in Benetton nor in Ferrari is it really true.

"The truth is, luckily I've always been able to be up front. I cannot help myself. If it stays like that what can I do? I don't want to make a slow to change the picture, obviously."

Schumacher continues with kind words for his garagemate.

"He's a big fighter," Schumacher said. "We together have brought Ferrari where it is. Obviously, that is a good level at the moment. We'll be trying to get it to even a higher level.

"But I think it is completely unfair to call him a second driver because he's automatically here. That's not really true. Neither it is on other teams. I've got some statements from other drivers from other teams who don't want to drive for Ferrari, because they don't want to be a No. 2 driver. I don't understand that."

Barrichello feels more comfortable this weekend than other drivers because he has a home to go to each evening. He is staying with close friend Felipe Giaffone, who drives for Treadway-Hubbard Racing and has clinched the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series Rookie of the Year Award.

Giaffone's cousin Silvana is married to Barrichello.

"It's quite a good relationship," Barrichello said of his friendship with Giaffone. "To be honest, I knew Felipe before I knew my wife. He was the one who introduced us, in a way. I know him for probably 10 years, maybe even more. We never raced together, apart from go-karts, which nowadays we often do, but his family knows my family."

Barrichello got together with Giaffone on Thursday after flying in from Brazil. Giaffone, who will complete his rookie Indy Racing League season competing in the Chevy 500 on Oct. 6 at Texas Motor Speedway, will spend this race weekend in his friend's Ferrari pits and watch the race from the Ferrari suite.

"It's awesome," Giaffone said about being introduced the Ferrari world. "They're huge. They do things differently. They are the top of the line."

Giaffone said that Barrichello met his cousin - and future wife - at a house the Giaffone family has in the mountains outside his hometown of Sao Paulo.

"We know each other from go-karts," Giaffone said. "He's older than me and in a different category. I always kind of followed him. We talk quite a lot. He race, and I race."

Barrichello and Giaffone are two of the numerous Brazilians that compete in the three major forms of open-wheel racing - Formula One, Indy Racing League and CART. Barrichello said it is hard for him to explain why so many of his countrymen become successful in worldwide racing.

"My example is probably a good example," he said. "I went to Europe when I was 16. Not that I lost my family, but I had to change everything. There was nobody there to help me. I had to be my own mommy and daddy. It made me quite a tough guy to go on and race, and it was the only thing I had to do.

"Breakfast was racing, lunch was racing, dinner was racing. Maybe that's a good reason why."

Now he waits for his a racing dessert.

-IMS-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Felipe Giaffone , Ross Brawn
Teams Ferrari , Benetton